Quickie: “Should I Ask My Daughter’s Boyfriend When He’ll Propose?”

We are from a very traditional family — six children, including five sons and one daughter. All five sons are married and have young children; our daughter lives with her boyfriend — both are 28 — and they have been together for over two years. My daughter’s boyfriend’s parents have had five marriages between them. I know that my daughter and her boyfriend adore each other, but my husband and I are starting to wonder if he will ever propose. I don’t want this issue to start to cloud our feelings toward this young man because he is just wonderful, but I know my daughter would like to get engaged. Do we have any right to approach this young man as to his intentions toward our daughter? — Protective Mom

Absolutely not. Your daughter’s relationship with her boyfriend isn’t your business, no matter how much you love her. Furthermore, your daughter’s boyfriend is only half of this couple. Why are HIS intentions the one you’re most concerned about? If you were going to butt into their business, wouldn’t it make more sense to find out what HER intentions are since she’s the one you’re related to? Or are you so “traditional” that you think a woman’s intentions either don’t matter or are always the same (Wedding! Marriage! Babies!”)? They aren’t. And it could just as easily be your daughter is delaying an engagement as it is her boyfriend (even if you say she wants to get engaged, it doesn’t mean she wants it this second).

One more thing: while you’re concerned about your feelings for her boyfriend being clouded, I can assure you that if you start meddling in their relationship, it will be their feelings for you that will be clouded. Mind your own business and be grateful that all six of your children are seemingly doing well.


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


  1. Avatar photo theattack says:

    What Wendy Said for sure! Don’t try to excuse poor behavior by saying you’re traditional. Just don’t do it. Don’t. Your daughter would NOT appreciate it.

  2. Yes!… to WWS. If you say anything to anyone, it should be your daughter. But even then, unless she is speaking to you about this and asking for advice, it’s none of your business.

  3. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

    Loved this point: “Furthermore, your daughter’s boyfriend is only half of this couple.” So true.

    1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

      Isn’t it funny what parents think sometimes? (segway into talking about myself) My mom is convinced that Colin is going to peer pressure me into moving in together too soon. Which anyone that knows me knows that if anyone is a bully in this relationship it’s me. But she has this angel image of me like I’m just super naive and innocent. I like it.

      1. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

        It’s the opposite with my parents. They think I treat my poor husband like crap!

      2. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Same here, lemongrass. When we’re around my parents, they almost constantly getting onto me for the things I say or do to him.

      3. kerrycontrary says:

        Yeh my mom thinks I’m mean to my fiance I have no idea why. And when he and I joke around, they think we’re serious and my mom is like “BE NICE TO HIM” or she tells me to get him food/drinks. It’s really weird.

      4. its obviously because if you all arent pushover nice wifey types, your husbands are all going to leave you. because THATS how you keep a man- be incessantly nice, no matter what, cater to his every whim, dont nag, feed him sandwiches and beer on the couch, ect.

      5. Avatar photo theattack says:

        Uhh… Yes, that is clearly the only possible explanation.

      6. it was a joke, lol

      7. lets_be_honest says:

        She could just be taking the jokes as being serious and saying offer him drinks because he’s a guest at the parents’ house.

      8. Avatar photo theattack says:

        That’s probably the most likely scenario. Or she could just be a critical person. Or should could have trouble cutting out the parenting role (hello, my mom).

  4. lets_be_honest says:

    Haha, gasped for a second thinking my mom wrote in! But no – which really is kinda disappointing now. That would’ve been fun.

    Definitely listen to Wendy!

    1. Maybe she did, but changed the small details so you wouldn’t know it was her?

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        She’s actually already asked me about it, so I know its not her writing 🙁

  5. Avatar photo LlamaPajamas says:

    You say that you’re really traditional – are you OK with your daughter living with her partner or are you anxious for them to get married because this bothers you? It’s none of your business either way, I’m just curious about your motivation.

    I’ve been having such a crappy month and this “afternoon quickie” made my day! So much to comment on today! I’m filled with so much righteous indignations! YES!!!

    1. My grandparents are doing this to my sister now. She moved in with her bf and they keep being like “is he gonna propose?” and “you don’t want to live with him if he doesn’t want a commitment, right?”
      I finally snapped when they told me to “talk some sense into her.” Um, no, I think she’s being perfectly sensical. Pushing for marriage is the wrong thing,… as hard as it is to break up and move out, its still harder to get a divorce.

    2. You said “afternoon quickie” and I got a bit jealous there for a minute…

  6. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

    Also I hope afternoon quickie becomes a thing. Especially on Mondays. Especially on Monday’s when you got fucked out of an extra hour of sleep. Especially Monday’s when you think you have pink eye. And also think you’re pregnant because that’s the only way to explain your insatiable hunger. And especially on Monday’s when you start out your morning implementing a “no drinking during the week policy” and by noon you can’t remember why you thought that was a good idea.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Pink eye was an answer on Jeopardy and I got it right.
      Also, isn’t GG pregnant too? Did we get an update on that?

      1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        We’re all pregnant.

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        BABIESSSSS. Can I babysit?


  7. love “afternoon quickie”.
    i cant wait until these ideals die. cannot. wait.

  8. Findingtheearth says:

    Maybe neither of them are ready to be engaged and/or married yet, and are enjoying being 28 and not overly tied down. 2 years of dating does not mean they have to be life long committed yet.

  9. Definitely 100% listen to Wendy and don’t talk the bf. Oh my gosh that’s the worst.

    But, if you have a good mother-daughter relationship you definitely can broach the subject with your daughter. But really think about how you’re going to come across. Regardless about how much or little she wants to marry her bf, she definitely doesn’t want her mom to get all judgy about how she’s going to live her life.
    If her answer was “No, I don’t want to get married, I’m happy with our relationship as it is,” could you handle that? Or would you feel compelled to weigh in on it being inappropriate or “living in sin?” If you can’t handle that with grace and kindness, don’t bother getting involved.

  10. All I can say is, WOW. Why do people think they have a right to butt into other people’s business when they haven’t been invited??

  11. The only person in recent times that I have read about doing this, inquiring about her adult daughter’s suitors intentions, where it was even remotely MAYBE ok, was Carole Middleton… and that’s because her daughter was going to be skewered (and had already been skewered) in the press and was basically giving up a life of her own (and putting her family in the paparazzi limelight as well) when she got back together with Prince William.

    Are you Cressy’s mom? NO – then stop yourself 😉

  12. Traditional. Translation: We don’t like our daughter “living in sin” and banging some guy she might not even actually marry.
    Get off your high horse. Trial run living together arrangements happen all the time now, and yes, a lot of them don’t marry, but some of them do. Chill and let your daughter live her own life, without judgement.

    1. or, traditional. translation: there is only one set of ideals (ours), and whoever doesnt live according to them we will happily “counsel” until they see the light.

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        I think you can be “traditional” without forcing others to be or “counseling them til they see the light.” I know my mom would’ve preferred we all wait til marriage before living together, but she has never once been judgmental or tried to convince me otherwise. She completely respects our choices.

      2. lets_be_honest says:

        That’s not to say there aren’t people like you describe either, but I do think there can be both types.

      3. I totally agree. My boyfriend’s parents are very religious/traditional, but they have come to accept us living together and not getting married despite being together for many years. While they still held the purse strings, my boyfriend felt the need to give them white lies about some of our past living situations. But they know we live together AND that I’m another religion and don’t intend on converting AND still treat me like one of the family.

      4. oh of course. i didnt mean to imply there was only one definition of traditional. but i like that definition for people like this LW.

      5. I think a good indication is if they have to point out that they’re traditional. Non-judgmental people with traditional views typically don’t throw them in your face, they just live their lives.

  13. I agree with the advice but I read the letter to mean that the mom DID know what her daughter wanted when she wrote, “but I know my daughter would like to get engaged.”

    What she didn’t address was whether she had mentioned to her daughter the idea of approaching the boyfriend.

    1. I can kind of see that, but I read it the opposite way. Knowing that these parents are traditional and she didn’t say that she had actually talked to her daughter (“I know she would like to get engaged” vs. “my daughter has talked to me about wanting to get engaged”), I read it the other way and think this is more likely the mom’s wishful thinking and being like, women all want to be engaged. People read this into situations all the time and they aren’t necessarily right (I swear to you my therapist thought I secretly wanted a proposal despite the fact that I told her on more than one occasion that wasn’t my intention for the near future).

    2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      Jess, I agree. I’m sure she knows her daughter wants to get engaged – I can picture them talking about it ad naseum. But even then, the LW should talk to her daughter and not the fiancé. Except instead of asking the daughter whether she wants to get married, the convo should be about if she’s made that clear to her boyfriend and if yes but he doesn’t want to whether this is a deal breaker for her. Basically, the advice is still the same: talk to your daughter about it if you must

  14. So I never comment, but I am going to give it a shot today. BUT, I am not going to comment on the inquiry but on your reason. I don’t think it is fair to assume that the judgement of the boyfriend is compromised by his parents inability to succeed (in your opinion) at marriage. You don’t even know the reason behind each of their divorces. My parents are divorced, and both remarried (so that puts them at 3; 2 shy of your concern) and while I love all 4 of my parents (& all the crazy that comes along with it!) I have been more cautious when it comes to serious relationships and discussion of marriage. You are wanting to rush this poor boy into making a big life decision while questioning his parents influence on his value of marriage. That seems a little contradictory. So cut the boyfriend some slack, especially since y’all find him “wonderful”. If you want to be nosey and are wondering the level of seriously of your daughter’s relationship, ask her.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      SLS you should comment more! This was great.

    2. Avatar photo theattack says:

      Ooo a “y’all!” Where are you from, SLS? I agree with LBH. You should comment more. That was very insightful.

      1. I’m from the great state of Kansas! (although I currently reside in Florida). And I will work on commenting a little more. Twice in one day, on the same thread, is a good start 🙂

      2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Where in fl? I’m in north central fl!

    3. oh yes, i am glad someone pointed this out too! i wanted too but there is just …too much… here to really get it all out.
      its ridiculous to look at his family as a dark mark. ridiculous.

      1. Avatar photo theattack says:

        The dark mark!?!? Ahhh!!!! Speaking of which, I had a dream about Bellatrix Lestrange last night and then woke up and hallucinated her standing over P. I looked at her several times to make sure she was really there, and she was there every single time.

      2. For some reason when I read this conversation earlier I thought it said the dark meat, and I was pretty confused.

    4. Yeah, my mom is on her third marriage and my dad just went through his second divorce. 🙁 I never thought that would mean any future hypothetical boyfriend’s “traditional” parents would distrust me. Lame.

    5. I agree. And two years isn’t that long. It’s actually fairly reasonable. I probably would want to be with someone at least two years before getting engaged. It’s not for everyone, but you’re making it sound like decades…

    6. Agreed! My parents are divorced and each remarried. I am not the least enthusiastic about getting married myself. Whenever I heard that someone is engaged, whether it be some celeb tabloid story or people I actually know, my first instinct is “Oh gods why??” A family history of divorce can have a lasting effect on a person.

  15. GatorGirl says:

    Back off lady. 2 years is NOT that long.

    LBH I’m not pregs, but I am sick which sucks.

    1. lets_be_honest says:

      Sorry you’re sick!

      1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        Thanks LBH and kare. Half a bottle of wine, some Nyquil, and 15+ hours of sleep and I’m feeling a bit better.

    2. I’m sick too! I hope you feel better soon! I’m going to the doctor tomorrow. Hopefully it’s not strep. :/

  16. Laura Hope says:

    LW–Don’t even think about it! Be respectful of boundaries!

  17. I don’t agree with what the LW wants to do, BUT I know what it’s like to grow up in a “traditional” family. My dad is one of the most ridiculously overprotective men I know — I love him for it and I know he’s just being him but it gets obnoxious after a while. Once when I was still with my ex and we were in college, we fell asleep cuddling and talking in my bed when we were both at my parents’ house. My ex woke up at like 4 am and my dad was walking by at that exact moment to run to the bathroom. The next morning my dad freaked out at me because my parents are VERY against me even just sleeping in the same bed as a boyfriend under their roof. It sucked because we were honestly just sleeping, but I respect their wishes when I’m at their house.

  18. Tinywormhole says:

    Oh dear god. WWS and what everyone else said. Do NOT talk to the BF. Even if she is anxious to get engaged and waiting for him to catch up to her level of readiness, you talking to him is going to do nothing positive toward making this happen. Nothing. It may (or may not) be true that he is having a harder time wrapping his brain around the reality of marriage due to his parents’ situations, but that’s for him to work out if it’s causing him pause. You want him to get engaged to your daughter 100% because he loves her, and 0% because he felt pressured by his future in laws.

    To give you a bit of hope, it took 4 years for my now-husband to propose and I was Ready with a capital “R” well before he was. I just can’t imagine how anyone meddling in that would’ve caused him to get there faster. But he did get there, all on his own. Be patient.

  19. LW, I don’t think you should approach this guy but I do think you should have a conversation with your daughter. Talk to her about what she wants and what she is looking for. Is she passing the time with this guy or will she love him forever with or without a ring? Does she want children? If you have a good relationship, say to her that these questions come from a place of love. maybe she will calm some of your fears.

  20. I think everyone is being a little harsh on the mom here. 1- She says she’s “traditional”, but it seems like she’s okay with her daughter being and adult and making her own decisions. 2- The mom didn’t say she wanted to have a talk with the guy about marrying her daughter, I read it as she more wants to understand if he believes in marriage. 3- The mom is aware enough to realize that this might not be a good idea, and so she wrote in to what she assumes are people her daughter’s age to ask advice. Instead of commending the mom on her self-awareness and ability to reach out to others, people are judging her beliefs. She also said her daughter wants to get engaged. Should she talk to the boyfriend? Probably not. But if she has had this conversation with her daughter, she should encourage her daughter to talk to her boyfriend about what she wants. We don’t need to tell the mother her feelings aren’t important or “how dare she” discuss the future of someone she has loved and raised. We need to acknowledge her voice and feelings, and direct her how and where to express them (towards her daughter, and helping her daughter to realize her voice and her feelings).

  21. I am in the same situation as the mom. Other than Adrienne, your answers were not very empathetic.

    1. If you are in the same situation as the LW, then, unless your child is a minor the answer is the same: stifle and butt out, it is your child’s life, not yours, and as an adult your child gets to make their own decisions. Your role is to be supportive and available if they want to talk. “I’m traditional” is not a license to interfere with your adult children’s decisions. How they manage their relationships is as personal as it gets and you won’t be thanked, nor will it be in any way justified, to butt in (unless there is abuse involved).

      When you dive down to the root of LW and your unease, the unpleasant root is “I expect my child to think as I do, share all my values, and basically not run their own lives. You have one life to live and that isn’t your child’s life. Live your life as you want and extend that same right to others.

    2. Avatar photo Skyblossom says:

      Definitely leave them alone. They need to figure out if and when to get married. Parental pressure or meddling won’t help. They don’t owe it to you to ask for your permission.

  22. Mom: Mind your own business. Period.

  23. Christina Henry says:

    My son has told me he will be asking his partner to marry him while they’re on holiday this May. He came to that decision without any influence of me, her parents, other members of the extended family and other people who have weighed in to their relationship. He’s had a lot of pressure over the last couple of years. He has his reasons for waiting til then (mostly because he was studying and didn’t have a good job). I’m so proud of him for not giving in to pressure. Let them come to the decision to get engaged in their own time. By the way, I’m married for the second time. It has not had any bearing on either of my sons. They’re both in strong relationships and want their own children one day.

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