“What Should I Say If He Proposes?”

wedding proposal

I have been dating my boyfriend for almost six years, and I just found out that he bought a ring and plans to propose soon. I’m excited, but, at the same time, he hasn’t been a very good boyfriend for a while. For instance, he knows that I know he is going to propose. He has been *trying* to for several months, but something always comes up with him because he always “has too much work” or is “too tired.” We are also long distance (three hours apart), and he NEVER drives to see me. Well, last semester he drove to see me three times and I drove to see him 15 or 16 times. In two weekends I have two major events for which I’m an organizer — one’s a charity event — that I invited him to three months ago, and he is now saying that he can’t go because he has too much work and has a meeting that weekend that he just can’t reschedule.

His go-to excuse for everything is that he has too much work, but I take more classes (we are both in graduate school) and I work more hours and I am involved with more activities. He also never wants to hang out with my friends and is constantly berating my program even though it is ranked the same as his. He also always pressures me into visiting him, and, if I say I can’t, he pouts and will call me, being really upset for hours, or send me 10 or 15 texts telling me that he doesn’t like to not be my first priority. He also gets really upset if I go out and do anything with my classmates because he feels that shows that I don’t care about him as much.

The other thing that is bothering me, and this is very vain, is that he has put on about 30 pounds. I don’t have an issue with weight gain, but I still work out 3-5 times a week to stay healthy while he plays video games and complains that he doesn’t have enough time to go to the gym or to cook (he eats fast food all the time). He also is on the craziest sleep schedule and will literally stay up until 7 or 8 AM and sleep until 5 PM (he does this when I visit and it drives me crazy).

I have talked to him about these problems several times, and he always says he will change but he NEVER does! I don’t want to break up with him because he does have a great personality, but I don’t know if I should say yes when he proposes. Advice? — Proposal Ambiguity

If a person has to change in order for you to be truly happy with him or her — and it sounds like this guy would basically have to change almost everything about himself — then MOA and find someone you can accept as is. Honestly, you should feel relieved he hasn’t proposed to you yet and consider a breakup with him a bullet dodged. Your boyfriend sounds like an inconsiderate, thoughtless, self-centered loser. (He also sounds like he could be depressed, but that doesn’t excuse asshole behavior, and your boyfriend is an asshole). If he’s what you consider a “good personality,” then stepping away from this six-year relationship is going to do you more good than you can even imagine right now. I know it’s scary to let go of a security blanket, but, when you free yourself of the dead weight, you’re going to be amazed at the possibilities that present themselves to you. Seriously, MOA.


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


  1. why are you even *considering* marriage with a man who you have so many issues with? seriously- why? what part of you or your upbringing has caused you to think this is a good idea? you need to do some really serious soul searching to figure out the answers to those questions.

    also- why arent you guys actively TALKING about marriage? why do you know he has a ring, plans to propose, actually cancels plans to propose, but you still havent talked about how you are going to work through the problems that you have? that seems so short sighted to me- you know about the superficial stuff, like the ring, but are pushing the real issues away. and even if you are trying to talk with your boyfriend about them, he is pushing them away, and again who wants to marry that?

    you have a lot of issues to work through. i would suggest first thinking about marriage separate from this guy and the ring he bought. think about what you want it to look like and feel like. think about what kind of things you want in your life -kids, where to live, ect. then, apply those values to your current situation and see how they line up. my guess is that they dont. so then, go to your boyfriend and lay it all out. talk about marriage, what it means, what you want it to look like, ect, and see if hes on board. if he isnt, or if he just pushes your concerns away, you leave.

    1. +1 to everything you said. Why does she even *want* to marry this guy? He’s not only an inconsiderate, thoughtless loser, he’s also (from what the LW says) manipulative, condescending and borderline emotionally abusive. Seriously LW, MOA and aim higher!

  2. If you don’t know what to say, the answer is NO. None of those things you mentioned are going to get better by marrying him. NONE. Oh sure, things might improve for a few months when you’re first engaged, but then it’ll slide back down the hill and things will be just how they are now.
    Frankly, your relationship seems like a bummer to me. You don’t seem to be happy or excited to be with him. Why are you with him? Seriously. Think about that.

    1. THIS. I get having cold feet and jitters about getting married. It’s a huge life change. But doubts about WHO to marry are another matter. One of my relationship measuring sticks was trying to envision saying my vows to this person in front of all our friends and family. If I couldn’t picture it or if I didn’t feel like I had words to share, that was my MOA sign.

  3. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

    Um…you say no and break up.

    1. Bittergaymark says:

      Beat me to it. Almost word for word. “No.” And then you immediately break up.

      1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        It’s the time zone difference 🙂

    2. Or she could head him off and just break up with him BEFORE he proposes.

  4. If you write in to an advice column asking whether you should propose and then proceed to outline a huge list of things you find wrong with your boyfriend and ways that he’s not a good boyfriend, I think you answered your question already. I know that getting proposed to is exciting, and you probably think that after six years, this is the next step, but you shouldn’t get engaged to someone that you can’t even call a “good boyfriend.” You should break up with him and find someone who doesn’t have to change to make you want to be with them. (FYI, he’s not going to change.)

    1. Oops, not “propose,” accept a proposal. I read the letter, I promise!

    2. “FYI, he’s not going to change.”

      Exactly. Accept and love him as-is, or move on.

  5. I don’t understand these letter writers that have a list of poor qualities about the men they are with, but then sign things off with “he has such a good personality” or “he’s such a great guy” – huh? Where does that come from…your friends? His friends? Who is saying he’s so great and why do you have to agree with them? It sounds to me like a pretty transparent defense mechanism…”Oh the guy im with is pretty treats me so bad but its ok that I’m with him anyway.”

    Read your letter over again and imagine what you’d say if it was a friend reading it back to you.

    1. i dont understand it either! it is a very odd phenomenon.

    2. They probably spend a lot of time defending the other person, so it’s an automatic reflex.

  6. WWS. And LW, seriously, ~why~ would you even consider saying yes? Is the fact that he’s planning to propose (apparently?) such a plus that it overrides all of the many, many minuses?

    Also, as a side side, I had an ex boyfriend with a similar sleep schedule & it SUCKED (I know, of all the bad things about this guy, that’s the one I picked out…)

  7. Hell, it’s enough that he has a terrible sleep schedule that you can’t deal with. (Let alone the fact that he seems to be somehow both lazy AND needy in the relationship.) Seriously, someone who sleeps in the day will drive you batty as time drags on. My gf was like that through part of grad school and we def wouldn’t have been able to date then.

    Oh, and you totally resent him, which is a death knoll for the relationship.

  8. WWS, x 1000. Not one aspect of his “great personality” came through in your letter. Is there is a bunch of happy juicy stuff that you left out? Getting engaged would lead to living together, how would that feel to you? Right now, it doesn’t sound fun at all! That being said, I knew a lot of guys like this in grad school – sleep schedule awry, not taking care of the themselves, super needy…some of them grew out of it, and some of them didn’t.

  9. You have had multiple conversations about this with no resolution, I would say that it is time to move on, and be much happier with your life.

    1. Oh and he obviously doens’t have a great personality, or he whouldn’t guilt you into visiting him everytime, get mad at you when you go out with friends, cancel important plans with you, and make fun of the program you are in.

      1. Oh dude I didn’t even see the part where he belittles her program. That ALONE is a reason to end it. Doesn’t sound like he respects you, either. He clearly doesn’t respect your time.

      2. Yeah I think the only thing that is keeping her in this relationship is the fact that she has been in it for 6 years. That’s a good run, and she got to see what this guy turned into, now it’s time to move on.

      3. Jessibel5 says:

        A to the effing men. AMEN. I wish I could thumbs up this comment by a whole lot more than once.

  10. lets_be_honest says:

    Unless you just want to have a Ring and a Wedding…and a divorce in a few years, say no.

    1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      Seriously. It’s going to be a lot of money wasted for some pretty pictures you can’t even display a few years later!

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        I feel like this is another example of someone who thinks that just since they’ve been together a really long time, they really should get married. I feel for the LW, but she’ll be digging her own grave if she goes through with this.

      2. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

        Exactly…sliding into marriage because “it’s time.” AND they aren’t living together…look! It happens to people who don’t cohabitate together too!

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        I’m sure its scary to imagine starting over after all this time, but imagine how happy she could be when she is alone, or finds someone who will treat it so much better.

      4. Avatar photo LadyinPurpleNotRed says:

        Oh I’m sure it is scary! I just wanted to point out that people don’t need to live together to slide into marriage because it’s time. It may seem like the “easier” answer now, but getting a divorce is much harder and more expensive down the road. Not worth it.

      5. lets_be_honest says:


      6. Sounds to me like she is basically alone already.

      7. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Yup. Terrible reason for marrying.

        Also, I have to say the “things keep coming up so he can’t propose” thing is total bs. I have a friend who got engaged on Facetime because she was on an overseas assignment. We got engaged on a street corner. If he really wanted to marry HER, he’d propose.

      8. Exactly. Getting engaged takes all of 45 seconds. I got engaged on a Monday night after work. A friend got engaged before she’d even gotten out of bed in the morning. There’s really no valid excuse.

      9. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I actually really hate this trend of totally over the top proposals. They did a bit on the Today show Friday about people who are paid to plan engagements. As if weddings weren’t materialized enough already, lets make engagements over the top and materialistic as well!

      10. lets_be_honest says:

        I never knew there were Engagement Planners until I saw a recent Cake Boss episode, where a guy hired one. Honestly, if you need to hire someone to figure out how to propose to your SO, something is not right with you.

        I like the over the top ones, actually. I wouldn’t like it for myself, but I think they are cute.

      11. oh god and then there is the asking you bridesmaids proposals now too that are becoming insane.

        the whole thing is becoming insane, basically.

      12. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Pinterest is covered in “how to ask your bridesmaid” posts. It annoys me. My BFF asked me to be in her wedding when we where out for pizza and beer. Interestingly enough, my SIL made a big deal out of the fact that she *wasn’t* asking me to be in her bridal party. She was like terrified I’d be pissed. I was actually relieved.

      13. Jessibel5 says:

        I wonder if this has anything to do with the whole concept of “everyone gets a trophy”? Like, one girl got proposed to, so now ALL the girls get a proposal! (Even though it’s just to be a bridesmaid). Everyone is special!

        Sorry guys, I am a week into Weight Watchers/Healthy Lifestyle change and I haven’t gotten used to it yet. If I’m curt in the comments it’s because I’m being a hangry b*tch 🙁 I’m eating kale and fruit and I just want cake and beer. For dinner. Forever.

      14. Jessibel5 says:

        The only over the top proposal I ever didn’t roll my eyes at was this one:

        What ticks me off is now teenagers are co opting the whole “over the top proposal” thing to ask people to PROM?! What is that?

        If you think you need to make a huge deal proposing or else they will be disappointed, then maybe you’re a) marrying someone who is high maintenance or b) not quite as sure of your relationship as you should be before you get married.

        This may be just me, but I think when you propose to someone, there shouldn’t be any doubt in your mind that they’ll say yes, otherwise your relationship is probably not ready for you to be proposing at all. If you know they’ll say yes, and you want to spend the rest of your life with them, why cover up such a heartfelt moment with bells and whistles?

      15. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I 110% agree with your last paragraph. (Well, I actually think proposing is silly and it should just be a mutual decision but that’s another story.) There is SO much work that a couple needs to do before being ready to marry, it should not be a total out of left field surprise when the proposal happens. (Time and place maybe, but not that the asking is happening.)

      16. Jessibel5 says:


      17. how ridiculous are the prom proposals getting?

        we did fun ways of asking people to dances at my school, but it was just fun and creative and goofy. like, scavenger hunts or decorating lockers or whatever. i think my most expensive one was putting starbursts all in my boyfriends new car and giving him a giant homemade card that said “my stars would burst if you’d go to sadies with me”. those i can get behind.

      18. Jessibel5 says:

        I saw one where a kid rented out an airplane banner, and I gave up on life for the rest of the day.

      19. Jessibel5 says:

        And by give up on life I just said “NOPE” and turned around and walked away, noping all the way back home and then I holed myself up inside for the rest of the day.

      20. i wonder how much those things cost…

        i saw one on an episode of 4 weddings, actually, and i thought it was dumb.

      21. painted_lady says:

        My senior girls this year all wanted over-the-top “promposals” (except for the girl who went with her gay bestie – a woman after my own heart). I made fun of them so hard. There were some that wanted to go with some guy, but wouldn’t ask him because they wanted it written in rose petals and diamonds on a tablecloth of white silk at a sunset picnic or some shit. I laughed really hard, and told them I called my date up two weeks before and asked him, and then went and answered the door for the pizza guy. They were horrified.

      22. Jessibel5 says:

        I believe that these over the top promposals probably take away the specialness of an actual marriage proposal.

      23. Lily in NYC says:

        You know what I think is even worse? Doing over-the-top invitations to the prom/homecoming has become a “thing”. No, just no.

      24. Lily in NYC says:

        Replying to myself – I swear I read the other comments to see if anyone else mentioned the prom. I don’t know how I missed it, sorry Jessibel!

      25. Jessibel5 says:

        Great minds think alike! 😉

  11. This seems like a case of “We’ve been dating for a long time, will be finishing grad school soon, and this is the next step.” Horrible reason to get married.
    Something tells me the LW will read the flood of negative comments and say “BUT he’s such an amazing person, and here is all the other important information I left out of my letter! And we are going to get married and have babies together and you can’t stop us!”

    1. Lmaf! I can totally see it.coming…

  12. As others have said, the answer here is to break up with him before he proposes.

    In MOST relationships, getting engaged is *not* the natural next step. In most cases, the relationship should and will come to a natural end.

  13. You had to know we’d all say MOA, right?

  14. Not absolutely freakin excited that this guy is proposing to you? SAY NO.

    1. Yeah, this is my thing with it.

      My wish for LW is that she eventually meets someone whose imminent proposal fills her with joy and excitement.

  15. Also, to the “he has such a great personality” thing— I get it, I think. I’m sure there’s some quality of his that you always think about when considering an end to the relationship. But trust me, whatever quality that is won’t going to make you regret a break-up. With some time & perspective (after the initial breaking-up sadness), you’ll be SO RELIEVED that you moved on from this relationship.

    1. i think its a balancing game. the bad should never outweigh the good. and of course there will always be bad, everyone is human of course, but the good has to be better, it has to hold more weight. and i really, really doubt that the good part of this guy could hold enough weight…

  16. Honestly, he sounds really selfish. Why would you want to be with a guy who wants you to carry the burden of your LDR but can’t be bothered to attend your events or spend time with your friends? If you marry him, he’ll expect to you continue to do all the relationship work with he sleeps all day and plays video games.

  17. I hope your thesis is written better than this letter. Neither your writing style nor your level of common sense read as graduate level thinking in the slightest.. And I’m pretty sure Wendy does basic corrections on letters as well.

    Bottom line is, you found out your boyfriend bought an engagement ring and your first reaction is not excitement or happiness but dread and the need for strangers advice. I’m pretty sure that means this is the wrong relationship for you. Also, your boyfriend sounds horrible and I would check to make sure dude is actually enrolled in graduate school as well. Unless it’s night school at the arcade those hours and activities don’t exactly spell out a legitimate academic schedule.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      I know when I write in anonymously to an advice columnist, I always make sure my grammar is up to par with any thesis I’ve written for graduate school. I mean, come on, LWs.

      j.walker, an ellipsis has 3 periods. I’d expect better from you.

    2. He could be working on his thesis/dissertation, he could be in a program that meets exclusively at night (geared towards professionals), he could be doing independent study.

      Seriously. If you’re going to be a judgy fuck, at least be right. LBH was on point.

    3. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

      Ladies, I’ve found her boyfriend!

    4. Because clearly the more logical explanation is that he made up the entire idea that he’s in grad school. I’m not sure what part you don’t think is legitimate beyond the weekend stuff, and plenty of group work or other activities on campus require weekend meetings.

      I also don’t know anyone in grad school who writes personal correspondence that resembles academic writing.

    5. Ha! You are clearly not an academic if you think there is such a thing as a “legitimate academic schedule”.

    6. Lily in NYC says:

      Ouch, completely harsh and unnecessary personal criticism in your first sentence. Since we’re doling out criticism, the first sentence in your second paragraph is clumsily written and you forgot an apostrophe – if we are going by your criteria, I guess that means you don’t have graduate-level thinking skills either!

  18. Is it just me, or does everyone else hate people who give you guilt trips? I absolutely positively cannot stand people whp give guilt trips, and I call them out on it all the time! LW, every time he says ,”if you really loved me you’d do x,y,z” or “you don’t love me enough to do a,b,c” he is guilttripping amd manipulating you so you do what he wants. He seems to be a man~child, and who wants to deal with that for the rest of their lives? Not me.thats for sure. MOA from this guy and find someone who cares about you and your relationship, not someone who just likes the fact that you will bend over backwards and give in to his childish behavior.

  19. Kinda off topic, but does anyone else’s browser says “he won’t quit doing drugs” when you click on this letter?

      1. O, ok. I thought that I clicked on the wrong post or something when I first went to read the letter lol.

      2. Whoa, mine does too. I only just noticed.

    1. Mine does too. And, all of these comments are italicized.

      1. Yeah, the italics is really getting to me.

      2. Yes. I think it has something to do with the slash “em” > thing after the letter sign-off, but I don’t know enough about HTML beyond that. haha

      3. Me too!

      4. Yeah to both! The italicized comments can be fixed in the html tag in the LW’s name – “Proposal Ambiguity/em>” should be “Proposal Ambiguity“

      5. Didn’t realize it would erase that part of my comment, but it’s missing an open pointy bracket “”

      6. Ah, coding errors. Story of my life!

      7. Same here

  20. Your relationship while dating is a preview of what your relationship will be when married. If his faults drive you crazy now, they will not improve from marriage. In fact, they may get worse, since he may feel he doesn’t have to “try”any more. (According to his definition of “try”, which is to be a loser and an asshole.) Do you really want this to be your life? MOA now.

  21. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

    If you don’t want to spend the rest of your life irritated by your partner’s flaws, because they keep the flaws and the flaws keep irritating, then for god’s sake don’t get married. This is a clear case of a couple sliding into marriage because it’s just what people do…. then divorcing later when they realize that they don’t actually like their spouse.

    Lady, there are other men with amazing personalities. You don’t have to stay with this guy, you can find another who has a great personality and treats you right too!

  22. Lemongrass I like your response. Clear cut and well put. 🙂

    1. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

      Thanks! And all before I had my first sip of coffee 😉

  23. Bittergaymark says:

    Many, many women would be wise to give up the ghost that they are simply so wonderful that their men will just, somehow, magically change and transform themselves into ideal mates… Honestly, its absurd. And it simply NEVER ever happens…

    If you want somebody fit and healthy — don’t waste years on a paunchy, couch potato loser that only makes to to reach for the MacDonalds… That so many insist on being so fucking dumb about this baffles me…

    1. findingtheearth says:

      Someone just told me today: if someone says “this is how I am” you really should not spend all your time trying to change them.

      I blame Hollywood and romance movies drilling the notion into women’s heads that men will change! Just wait for the montage of how much they are suffering without you

    2. Lily in NYC says:

      Why do you assume women think the reason is because they are simply so wonderful? And not because they are scared of failure or being alone or a million other reasons? I like you but you can be such a fucking misogynist sometimes (even though in my mind you are really a middle-aged woman who wears a housedress all day). You always assume the worst possible motives when it comes to those of us with ladyparts.

      1. Well they are equally unreasonable. I don’t think BGM said anything unreasonable or misogynist. She is, in fact, assuming that the guy should/will change for her. She needs to find somebody who she likes as he is. Relationships tend to start in a rosy courtship phase, in which even loser misogynist guys are very kind, attentive, understanding, and constantly putting forth their best effort. When they think the woman is won, too many men revert to their real personality, revealing that much of what was so appealing was an act/game. This is especially true of emotional and physical abusers. They are both skilled manipulators. LW needs to realize that she is/has seen her bf at his best. It is extremely unlikely that she is going to remake him into something better. He doesn’t seem to be trying all that hard to please her and is taking her totally for granted. Either he thinks he has totally trapped her in her love for him or what you call her fear of failure or loneliness or he just no longer cares much about her. She’s worth pouting and guilt-tripping to get her to make a round-trip drive so he can have sex/whatever; she is not worth making that drive himself. She is good enough as long as she is completely convenient. Findingtheearth is right, this is the Hollywood romance view of relationships and BGM is correct that LW has bought this totally, which in a nutshell is saying that she buys into the notion that her wonderfulness and love are enough to cause this loser to see the light and turn into a great guy. Nothing misogynist about that, simply reality.

      2. “LW has bought this totally, which in a nutshell is saying that she buys into the notion that her wonderfulness and love are enough to cause this loser to see the light and turn into a great guy.”

        I don’t get why the vitriol is going to the LW. If she is REMOTELY a decent human being, she DOES deserve for this guy to stop being a loser. Is he going to, no. But does she have a right to expect it? Um, kind of!!! Everyone should expect to be treated better than this.

        The Hollywood myth is not just about being so wonderful that you motivate a man to change, but also that it’s perfectly OK for men to be jerks right up until the moment they fall in love. Her mistaken assumption is not that she is so great, but that HE is not fundamentally a loser. She’s hardly suffering from overly high self-esteem, I mean, come on! She lets him guilt-trip her just for going out with her classmates or not driving three hours at the drop of a hat. Hardly the mark of someone who thinks she’s a wonderful princess who the world should just bow down to.

      3. No she doesn’t deserve for this guy to not be a loser any more than the LW who wrote the update about her disabled ‘friend’ deserves to have him behave as she wants him to. One doesn’t deserve to have another person change from what is viewed by them as loser behavior. She does deserve a bf who treats her well and makes her happy. That doesn’t give her a right to make this guy change, just because he’s the guy she happens to be with today. To get what she deserves, she needs to MOA and find a new guy who will take her seriously and behave in a way in which she can be happy in the relationship. See the difference — she deserves the right to be happy, but she doesn’t deserve to insist that this guy change who he is to make her happy. This is the fallacy. Just because you deserve to be happy and be treated well, doesn’t confer the right to take some guy and remake him into what you want. If you know what you want, you have to go find a guy who is that. Yes, we all make tweaks in our personality and behavior patterns to please a SO whom we love, but she is looking for major changes. That is total deception and to encourage her with the theory that ‘she does deserve for this guy to stop being a loser’ is just wrong. Basically, she has the right to MOA. So, yes, everyone should have the right to be treated better than LW is being treated, simply not to demand that a particular person treat them better, because they have fixed their ‘love’ on that person and are too afraid to MOA.

      4. So you don’t have the right to ask that someone treat you better? That makes no sense whatsoever. No, you shouldn’t bully someone into treating you better, but having expectations to be treated decently is a good thing. There is no moral wrong in it. (Of course, it’s wrong in the sense of being incorrect, since anyone in their right mind would know she’s waiting in vain, but you seem to be saying she is a bad person to… expect him not to be a bad person? Is it just me or is that completely illogical?)

        “everyone should have the right to be treated better than LW is being treated, simply not to demand that a particular person treat them better,”

        You always have the right to demand that someone not be unreasonably clingy, possessive, and neglectful while also constantly accusing you of deprioritizing him. That’s controlling behavior, and even if she’s unwise enough to stay with him that doesn’t mean she has any obligation to submit to his bullying. (The video games and the sleeping in I would agree with you — that’s who he is, rather than something she has a “right” to change, although there’s no harm in asking — but the stuff where he’s actually a terrible human being is stuff she has the right to expect him to stop no matter how much being a jerk is part of his personality.)

      5. Not to basically Godwin this whole thing, but if he were flat-out physically violent, would she have no right to demand that he stop just because she was still with him? I mean, wife-beating is who he is…

      6. Bittergaymark says:

        Are you REALLY this dense? No one is saying she should tolerate his bad behavior. (Much less physical abuse!) But we are saying that she IS stupid to stay with him if she does so as she is expecting he will change. Newsflash: He won’t. It is a fucked up fantasy that he magically will somehow just become a better person… He won’t. She is wasting time on a loser… End of story.

      7. Not arguing with the fact that she should break up with him, and that he’s not going to change. Just saying that when someone is a dating a jerk, and is not a jerk herself, it’s pretty fucked up for people to be this mean to her. (And she actually to me appears to be staying with him expecting he WON’T change (seems like she thought so in the past, but her tone is pretty pessimistic at this point), which is even sadder.)

        I’m not “that dense,” thanks; I took issue with the statement that “everyone should [not] have the right … to demand that a particular person treat them better,” which I assume everyone would disagree with, since if someone is treating you badly you damn well should ask them to treat you better. oldie apparently didn’t mean to say exactly that herself; she is saying “right” when she means something like “viable option,” whereas I am saying “right” in the sense that I might say “everyone has the right not to live in poverty,” knowing that plenty of people do live in poverty their entire lives with no other option. But I didn’t know that until she clarified. (I’m assuming she, sorry if you are a he.)

      8. Yes, Oldie is male.

      9. I don’t know how you could have read the letter and gotten the impression that she hasn’t already asked him to change and expressed her unhappiness. Of course she has a right to ask. She doesn’t have a right to expect he will change. It is the same with the abusive SO, you basically have two rights: 1) you can call the cops and leave, 2)you can decide to live a fantasy that he will change if you ask him, which pretty much guarantees that he will repeat the abuse. You talk as if ‘demanding that he stop’ will cause him to stop. You are not ‘entitled’ to the lover of your choice to not be an abuser. He is what he is. You are entitled to flee. It is not a question of how he should behave, it is a question of how you know he actually does behave. The assumption that because “I love him, except for…” that you have a right for ‘the except for’ behavior to change, because you ask. That’s not real. It’s not who he is. It’s who you’ve imagined him to be, because you find him hot, or charming when he’s in the mood to be charming, or you’re desperate.

        I’m not saying she’s a bad person. I’m not saying she doesn’t deserve more. I am saying she has no reason to expect and does not deserve to take an actual person whom she likes and loves ‘except for’ and expect him to change for her. That rarely happens, even when the ‘except for’ is spectacularly self-destructive behavior that the SO should want desperately to change for his own sake. That just isn’t who he is, or he wouldn’t be an addict, or violent, or a cheater, or a criminal. or verbally abusive, or totally lazy, selfish and unsupportive. If you deserve better, and most of us do, then demand and look for better.

      10. OK, I think I actually agree with what you’re saying and we’re just interpreting the words “right” and “entitled” differently. 🙂 If you’re saying she isn’t entitled to expect the world to hand her happiness on a silver platter if she doesn’t go for it, then I agree 100%!

        But between the two of them, I personally believe she never loses her right to be treated decently no matter how much he violates it. Having a right to something has never in any world caused it to happen, as you point out. He’s not going to do it, but that doesn’t change her basic rights in the relationship.

        She does become complicit in her own unhappiness if she doesn’t leave him. I agree with you there too.

      11. I agree 100%. But the thing is, you have the right to say “dude, treat me better, because of this and that”. However, if they do not treat you better? Then it’s time to MOA. Whether friends or family or over-ripe boyfrends.

      12. Submission to bullying in this case is a choice. Of course she has the right to tell a significant other what she wants. She’s done that. He hasn”t changed. She can’t demand that he stop bullying her. She can tell him if he doesn’t stop she will leave. If he doesn’t stop and she still chooses to stay with him, hoping that her ‘love’ will somehow eventually change him then, yes, she has stupidly chosen to submit to being bullied. What else could you call such behavior? The point comes where it is not logical to really want the bullying to stop and really wanting to stay, because the guy’s basic behavior and personality won’t ever change. That’s like falling in love with an orange, because that’s what was in the fruit bowl at your Mom’s house and then demanding that the orange become an apple, because you are a great person who deserves to live with an apple. You may be the most deserving person in the world and you may have convinced yourself that you selflessly love that orange with all your being, but it is always going to be an orange and you are always going to feel cheating that you aren’t living with an apple. Now, whose fault is that? It doesn’t make her a bad person, any harm is purely self-inflicted upon herself, but it is till her fault and she is never going to be happy until she puts that orange back into the fruit bowl and goes looking for an apple of her own.

      13. Love the fruit analogy!

        Never expect to persuade an orange to become an apple!

        Learn to recognize what fruit you’re dealing with and then decide if that is what you want your diet to be. For singles, the world is your fruit basket! Monogamy = monofruit!

      14. You seem to be using “deserve” and “expect” interchangeably, but I think there’s a difference between deserving and expecting something. No one deserves to be with a loser, but if you are with a loser, it’s not logical to expect that somehow they’ll do a 180 and turn into a wonderful boyfriend. You can expect something until you’re blue in the face, but you’re not doing yourself any favors if it’s something you’re not likely to get.

        I don’t think it’s about someone having too-high self-esteem so much as that the implication in the whole Hollywood scenario that you’re talking about (guy falls in love and stops being a loser) is that he stops being a loser BECAUSE he met a wonderful girl he loves, whereas in the past, he hasn’t met anyone he’s felt that way about. It’s the whole “You are so great that you make me want to be a better person” line. So some women see this and assume that if this guy loves them and thinks they’re wonderful that he’s going to change just like that.

      15. Lindsay – the reason I’m saying “deserve” is that this thread is super critical of the LW for thinking she’s so awesome, and the evidence is that she has stayed with someone who treats her like dirt and has the nerve to think he might change.

        The myth is not just about the woman being wonderful. It’s about the man LOVING her enough to change, even though in real life, nice people treat their SOs well even if they’re only kinda in like with them, and guys who act like Jack Nicholson are usually just jerks whether or not they’re in love. So IF she’s bought into this myth it’s like she’s basically accepting that he doesn’t yet love her that much — again, not evidence of high self-esteem.

        And the general tone of some of the comments seemed to be “You are not that awesome, so why would he be nice to you?” Which is like… huh? I agree that staying with him this long sounds incredibly foolish, but I don’t get the vitriol, and no one has yet given a believable justification for saying her opinion of herself is too high. So I started using “deserve” because I’m trying to figure out why everyone is so angry at someone for being naive enough to expect that she will be treated, not like a princess, but like a human being. She does deserve that – everyone deserves it – and the only one suffering from her naivete is herself, so why the anger, you know?

      16. But eh. Maybe I’m misreading everything because I feel like “expect” carries a moral rather than a predictive weight. But it depends on the usage. So sorry if I misread something you said.

      17. eh, in my opinion, her stupidity doesnt come from some misguided inflated self esteem issue. it comes from her trying to figure out how to make a proposal and/or marriage with this guy work without actually doing the work (and if he wont, there is no work, you just leave)- and the fact that she would pursue a marriage with this guy in the first place. that is a deliberate action. one that doesnt require respect or expectations or anything.

      18. Hmm, yeah, I think we just are using the words differently. As for the high self-esteem, I didn’t really read the thread that way. Just as if someone thinks that being a good person is going to change someone, not necessarily that they think they are the best person in the world or that they aren’t as good as they think.

      19. But this is the Hollywood Princess myth. BGM and I aren’t putting down the LW, simply saying she has bought into a myth to her detriment. It is the rom com and Disney myth that is bad and needs to be squashed. The myth is indeed about the woman being special. Kiss a frog and turn him into a prince, or in the rom com version take a misogynist loser who has just never met the right girl, i.e. super-you, and transform him through the power of your special love, which has the power to change him, whereas his lesser dozen prior gfs just weren’t special enough to transform him. The myth is the singularity of the star’s ability to save the man through transformative love. Without it, women would just look at the guy as a hopeless loser, rather than a reclamation project suited to their unique talents.

        Love certainly can transform, especially socially insecure introverts. The myth is in believing that a guy who has mistreated numerous prior gfs is just waiting for your specialness. It turns a lost cause into an irresistible challenge for some.

      20. I mean, she’s been with this loser for six years. By her letter, she talked and talked and he hasn’t shown any evidence of change. Is transformative love really that slow?

  24. What should you say if he proposes?

    Actually though, you should end it before he gets the chance to propose. Even if one final time you have to drive over there to see him since you’re the only one putting any effort into this relationship. Tell him you know he has a ring, but you need to have a serious conversation about the state of your relationship.

    P.S. The conclusion you draw about the state of your relationship should be that for all the reasons you shared with us, its over.

  25. findingtheearth says:

    I really dislike pouters and guilt trippers. They make so much not fun.

    If you can’t stand this guy now, what will change when you get proposed? If he is not willing to work on himself now, do you think he will once has exchanged vows?

    Divorce is expensive. Save yourself the headache, the money, and the huge amount of paperwork, and break up now.

  26. Avatar photo kmentothat says:

    If you decide to heed the advise of the many commenters above me, be prepared for his last ditch effort to keep you…which very well will be a big dramatic engagement. There may be promises he’ll change, an “understanding” that he took you for granted, etc. The thing to keep in mind is that is someone is only willing to step up and be a better man when they threat of you leaving is looming over them, what happens when you get married and that threat is gone? At the end of the day, follow your gut on this one. I pretty much wanted to hug you when I read he belittles your program and pulls guilt trips on you. Loving someone doesn’t mean you have to be in a relationship with them. I think you should move on and find someone who is better equipped to conduct themselves like an adult in a relationship.

  27. Good grief!

    Is it Friday already?!

    1. Let’s all pretend it is and take the rest of the week off.

  28. Avatar photo Astronomer says:

    With all of his positive personality attributes, I’ll bet he’s awesome in bed.

    1. Jessibel5 says:

      I bet it’s stellar…for him.

  29. Why are you still dating him?

    He’s moody, demanding, acts clingy when you try to use the same excuses he does to not see you, refuses to take care of himself, belittles your program (which is belittling your education!) and is generally an ass.

    Walk away. He probably got that ring and keeps saying he’ll propose so you don’t leave. Stop being manipulated.
    As others may have mentioned, he will probably try something after you break up with him. A surprise, public engagement attempt is my bet. The whole “I see now how badly I treated you” followed by a LOT of sucking up (this is the “honeymoon phase”, and it will be over once you’ve been back together for a few weeks/months). Don’t fall for it. He didn’t change his behavior or attempt to meet you half-way when he didn’t think he was losing you.
    Once he realizes you won’t take him back, expect some other crap. Petty bitching to mutual friends/acquaintances about how YOU were the bad person and did X things that were “bad”. Friends calling you to pressure you into talking to him/getting back together with him because he’s doing so poorly without you. The bitching must be ignored. The calls will have to be met with a “I’m sorry he’s doing so poorly, but I really don’t see how this is my fault. He made his choices and was not affected by distance as much as he is claiming. I will not be guilted into taking him back”. Or something along those lines.

    If he escalates – please don’t hesitate to talk to an attorney or a therapist to discuss your options. Many people seem like they “wouldn’t get violent”, but once a relationship is over, all bets are off.

  30. Jessibel5 says:

    What I want to know is whenever he starts playing the “I don’t like that I’m not your first priority” game, does she ever counter back with “would you like to be the pot, or the kettle?” and call him out on when he doesn’t make her his first priority?

  31. Since the LW says he hasn’t ‘been a very good boyfriend for a while’, I’m wondering how long of a while and if he might be depressed, given the sleeping/withdrawing/clinging/weight gain/grad school/stressors/etc. That does not excuse his treatment of her, and she should not accept a proposal from him, but it might merit a different approach (depending on if this is truly new/recent/unusual behavior for him) then an automatic MOA, which otherwise I’d be totally on board with.
    IF this behavior is not like the BF of the past six years, and IF the LW wants to hang in there a bit longer, she should:

    1. Have a conversation where she brings up all the differences in his behavior that she’s noticed and asks him if he’s willing to see a doctor/therapist and follow up with any recommendations or treatment.
    2. Let him now that she loves him, but she doesn’t recognize her old BF in this new behavior, and she doesn’t like it. This is not the kind of guy she wants to marry, and she needs to see him being proactive to take care of himself and their relationship.

    This is where I run out of enummerated steps and it depends on what happens next. A manipulative asshole will do what the above commenters said—will make a big show of remorse and intention to change etc etc, only to revert after forgiveness is granted and the relationship is ‘safe’ again.

    But having been through grad school myself, it can do a number on your mental health and adjustment. If the LW has reason to believe this is depression/something medical rather than just a jerk, and that he is willing to do the work it takes to get well, she can choose to give it a timeline and keep an eye on things—maybe six months. She needs to be in the loop about his treatment and the steps he’s taking to address whatever in his life may be overwhelming him, and she needs to be able to list concrete progress/change over a significant period of time. In the meantime, she needs to put on hold any plans for engagement.

    Again, the only reason I’m hesitant to full-heartedly agree with the MOA sentiment is because in my read of the letter it seems like this might be uncharacteristic for this guy, that in the six years she’s been with him he has been acting like this since last semester. I think any change in personality coupled with a high-stress time of life is worth getting a professional opinion on. The LW is under no obligation to hold onto the relationship, and if she does so, she should do so knowing that this may come up again, or that he may be resistant to addressing his problems, or any other number of factors.

    She really needs to explore her own commitment to this guy, and be realistic about the fact that the relationship may not work out. And she absolutely needs to make it clear that the relationship continuing at all is provisional on her seeing him address these issues over the course of time, and that, for now, no engagement is imminent between them.

  32. So you don’t want to marry this guy because he never makes any effort in your relationship and hasn’t been a good boyfriend lately, but you don’t want to dump him because of his great personality? How does that make any sense?!?! What are you even getting out of this relationship? There’s plenty of people out there with a great personality, and even ones that would actually spend time with you and respect you. You said he makes you come out to see you (b/c he throws a tantrum if you don’t come out to see him) then sleeps while you’re there. That is so rude, and shows that he really doesn’t care that much about you, or value spending time with you. Pay attention to his actions, not his hissy-fit words. MOA.

  33. I don’t understand why people who don’t like each other continue in their relationships. Same with the update from the woman who has the disabled friend she doesn’t like. Just stop. Life is too short to endure relationships. That is not their purpose.

  34. Can we just make a rule that if you have to ask a bunch of strangers if you should accept a proposal, then the answer is no?

    1. Stephanie says:

      That would be awesome. It’s annoying when these LW’s write in for advice but don’t proofread it to see they’ve already answered their question.

    1. damnitt that was for Lindsay above me…

    2. Wow, that’s crazy. Good thing she realized that the tumblr was a red flag in itself…

  35. Skyblossom says:

    If he proposes and you aren’t happy with the relationship you tell him that your relationship isn’t ready for marriage and you can’t accept his ring.

  36. Skyblossom says:

    Your best option is probably to end the relationship.

    If you aren’t there yet then you at least need to establish limits. You quit driving to see him until he has driven to see you. Don’t take a turn when it isn’t your turn.

    You tell him that you will no longer spend a visit with him watching him sleep through the day. If you are at his place and he falls asleep during the day you pack your things and you leave and that is the end of that visit. He wakes to find that you are serious about not watching him sleep.

    If he is at your place and falls asleep during the day it is a little more difficult. You need to leave your apartment/house and go out somewhere. If you have an office at school you could leave and get some work done or you could meet friends or you could go to a coffee shop but you need to not stay there and watch him sleep.

    Tell him you won’t put up with any more disparaging remarks about your program. Tell him remarks about your program insult you and your abilities and your choices. Be prepared to leave every time he makes a disparaging remark.

  37. Skyblossom says:

    There are men who propose when they feel that their relationship is slipping away. So he buys a ring and proposes and you feel you need to accept and the next thing you know you’re planning a wedding and getting married even though you aren’t happy. Don’t accept!

    Instead of working on the relationship he buys a ring. Then, no matter what your comment about the relationship he can reply that he bought you a ring/proposed/wants to marry you.

    You: You don’t value our relationship.
    Him: I bought you a ring.

    You: You don’t prioritize our relationship.
    Him: I bought you a ring.

    You: I put in all of the effort in this relationship.
    Him: I bought you a ring.

    Buying a ring is the lazy way to gloss over the problems in the relationship and instead of making real change that will grow the relationship he can then say that he obviously values you and loves you and prioritizes you because he asked you to marry him.

    If you accept his proposal he will feel that everything is perfect and he will not change the way he does anything. The status quo will become etched in stone.

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