Your Turn: “He Returned My Engagement Ring!”

In a feature I call “Your Turn,” in which you, the readers, get to answer the question, I’m presenting the following letter without commentary from me:

My boyfriend and I have been dating for three years. We decided to go look at engagement rings since we have been talking about marriage and moving in together. Over the past year, I have firmly expressed my desire to be engaged before moving in with a boyfriend, but he seemed reluctant and told me that he would not propose unless I moved in. So I found a job and considered moving in with him so he would propose.

We went to the mall and found a very nice but very expensive ring. I told him not to buy it, even though we were both excited. I told him that this was a very important decision and that if he were to buy it that it would mean that he is ready to propose in the near future. I just didn’t want to be disappointed since I found a job and was willing to move away from home for him. He decided to buy it anyway. I was excited and thought how wonderful it would be that he was going to ask me soon.

As soon as we got it home, he seemed to regret this purchase. He would not tell me how much it was, but I know it was expensive. I always told him it wasn’t about the ring, it was about the verbal commitment. He was very depressed and told me he had made a mistake, and that it was way too expensive. He stayed awake all night regretting the choice to buy it. In the morning he returned it. I felt bad, like he should have listened to me and waited until he was ready to purchase something or look for something less expensive. I decided to wait to move in with him since he then told me we were moving too fast.

He is 26 and spent a year at home not working after graduate school before deciding to go to school again. He had some time to find part-time work and save a little since he was living at home, but he didn’t. I was so ready to be engaged to him, saw a happy future, but I feel awful about the whole situation. He still wants to buy me a ring and propose, but I’m feeling rejected and unimportant. He is on break from school, but has only come to see me once, and our phone conversations have been stressed. I drive to see him every weekend, so I thought it would be nice for him to visit me once in a while, but he doesn’t seem to want to do that now either.

What is happening to my relationship? I told him it was ok if he was not ready for engagement, but he says he is. However, he is not showing me that I am important anymore by visiting and taking me out or being supportive. He seems depressed, sleeps most of the day, stays up most of the night. I don’t know what to do. When I ask for more time together or address the fact I’m concerned he is depressed, he feels I am pointing out his faults. When I don’t ask, he tells me the reason he doesn’t visit is because I don’t ask him to. I’m confused, and have become very depressed. Any thoughts? — Where’s My Ring, Already?


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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. LW, There are a few details that don’t make sense here. So you were going to move in but didnt? You got a job but he has to travel to you? Or did you get a job near his grad school and he is home at his parents for the holiday?

    Now, calm down. Guys get wierd right before they propose. They just do. They start lieing to you to hide the fact that they are going to propose. Tell him you love him. Tell him you need him. Tell him you want him to visit.

    1. SweetPeaG says:

      Respectfully disagree.

      If a guy gets severely depressed before he proposes to you, that’s not normal or okay. That’s not simple nerves. He should be HAPPY if he sincerely wants to marry her and is in a place to do so. The guy could be going through some depression… I do feel empathy for him in that case. But, I do not think he is using depression as a way to surprise her with a proposal. That would be a little insane. This doesn’t sound like two people who are ready for a marriage. He either needs to drop the relationship if the whole thing really bothers him this much or he needs to get mentally healthy before they move forward.

      1. See, I was taking it that she was assuming depression. Every girl I know. Everyone. Right before the proposal. The guy isn’t talking to them, he with draws, it isn’t depression, it is him being sneaky. It is such a shock when I happens because by the time you get engaged, a couple has a rythym. The guy gets shady and the whole relationship is off. We will find out with the reply but I bet he proposes on Christmas.

        LW, just in case. Get your nails done.

      2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        My fiance didn’t stop talking to me or withdraw right before he proposed. He wouldn’t let me go in his golf bag but otherwise his interactions with me did not change at all.

      3. Same here. In fact, my ex fiance kept trying to make special dinner plans that I had to keep changing for various reasons. I had no idea! But I was never once worried about the relationship or thought he was acting weird. The only time during our relationship he started acting weird was one we were getting serious and he was deciding if he wanted to continue or not. He did.

      4. Avatar photo shanshantastic says:

        My husband was exactly the same way – the only weird stuff was before we firmly committed to being with each other. Well, he *was* strangely detailed about “having dinner with his parents” the night he went to buy my engagement ring, but I was out of town and didn’t think anything of it. If he had pulled the kind of behavior LW’s boyfriend is pulling now, I would have expected a break-up, not a ring.

      5. maybe we were nosy girls. But when my husband got “strangely detailed” it prompted more questions from me. And he then got defensive. They weren’t badgering questions but he would get wierd. The day he proposed, we almost got in a fight because I was like “Why are you being so shady?”

      6. see i think though that this is the “omg we are getting serious” period for this couple. i mean they say that they have talked about marriage but we have no idea how abstractly that happened. and for a lot of people, im sure, its not “real” until you do something like ring shopping, you know? so i think that this couple might be at that omg we are serious juncture- thats what it seems like to me, especially with all the talks of new jobs and moving in together- it actually seems like a lot of serious things happening all at once.

      7. Now, did you think it was wierd to have him say out of the blue “don’t go in my golf bag, that is a house rule now?” Like, was that something that made you ask more questions only to get more wierd answers? Or are you not nosy like me?

      8. theattack says:

        I can’t speak for GatorGirl’s golf bag thing, but my fiance kept redirecting me from his duffel bag and from his car. Anytime I got close to it, he would just suggest we go do something else and stop me. It wasn’t suspicious at all.

      9. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        We were packing the car to go on a weekend trip and I went to double check everything was in it and to take it to the car and he was like “nonono I’ll get it, you don’t need do that I already did!!” and swept it off to the car. I didn’t think twice about it until after the proposal when he explained he hid the ring in the golf bag.

      10. Why would he have to be sneaky? They went ring shopping together, it’s not like the proposal will be a surprise.

      11. lets_be_honest says:

        Friend of mine went ring shopping with her bf, but he held onto it for a little bit and “surprised” her with how/where/when he proposed.

      12. yea, I know alot of people that happens with.

      13. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

        Thats what we did. My husband wanted to propose in his hometown. I actually stumbled upon my ring twice before he gave it to me. The second time I told him “If I see this one more time, I’m going to put it on!” He proposed two days later haha.

      14. right, but a guy wants it to be special. Proposals are a big deal for guys. It isn’t like he bought the ring and took the bag and handed it to her saying, “transaction complete, we are now engaged.”

      15. theattack says:

        Yeah, My fiance didn’t do that either. He acted weird for about five minutes when he was trying to get me to the location, and then he acted weird for about one minute once we got there. The days and weeks prior were marvelous! Some of the best times we’ve had together. He had to “work late” several nights that turned out to actually be ring-shopping nights, but no withdrawal or depression. I don’t think what you’re describing is typical at all, and I would be very concerned about marrying someone who withdrew from me before proposing.

      16. i think it is incredibly normal for there to be some sort of emotion/jitters/fear/whatever you want to call it before making such a huge decision as marriage.

        no matter if you are incredibly happy and 100% sure about it, it is still a HUGE thing that means a lot…

      17. EricaSwagger says:

        People like to throw around the word ‘depression’ though, and I really think that’s what the LW is doing here. She even said she’s become depressed herself. Her boyfriend isn’t actually depressed, that’s just the word she chose to describe his actions. Depression is a real disorder with specific symptoms that must me met before a diagnosis. Depression is different than just acting a little withdrawn or turning inward for a bit or even just feeling sad for a while.

        Even things such as sleeping all day and staying up all night don’t indicate depression. If he slept all day AND all night, maybe. But staying up late and sleeping all day is what a lot of people do when they’re on break from school. I don’t think — based on the info in the letter — that we can say he’s severely depressed.

      18. I totally agree that people throw around that word way too easily! It feels thrown around in this letter and that is why I don’t give it alot of credit.

    2. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

      I agree, csp. That they went looking at rings and bought one is a good sign he wants to get married too. The LW should relax. Not let this ring incident drive her crazy and start to question everything. From what i can tell by her letter, I really do think the ring was just about the money. Or hell maybe you’re on to something, maybe he’s jsut lying about wanting to take the ring back to preserve *some* element of surprise when he proposes. And here this LW is getting herself all worked up, questioning everything, fixating on the fact he lived at home and didn’t save at the beginning, blah blah blah. What do so many women get so crazy about the proposal and the ring and the engagement and blah blah blah?!

      1. Sounds to me like once he bought the ring, it became real and he is freaking because it made him realize that he is not ready to propose.

      2. I guess AP and i just are cheering for love and happily ever after here 🙂

      3. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        We rock. Everyone else? Murderers of love.

  2. sarolabelle says:

    I honestly don’t think this guy is feeling the relationship anymore. It happens. This sounds very much like the end is near in this relationship. Maybe one or two weeks away. Longer if he is a coward.

    Tell him you aren’t happy, that you feel neglected and ask him “what kind of husband are you going to be for me when you can’t even drive out to see me?” If he gets defensive rather than consider your concerns then that is NOT husband material. Husbands listen to their wives when they are upset and try to make the situation better. If he isn’t doing that, do you really want that kind of husband? One that just gets defensive and goes in the other room to sulk? Sounds like a divorce in the making!

    This isn’t about the ring, although I don’t think you should compromise your feelings on living together before being engaged. If he wants to propose bad enough he will do it whether you live together or not.

    1. Agreed, especially on the last part. Also it sounded like with you guys he was willing to marry you but still wanted you to move in before he proposed or he wouldn’t propose? That is silly.

      1. In my experience, when marriage is being talked about but one party suggests “move in first”, it can be a ploy to put off the proposal. Like, if he’s going to propose anyway, what difference does it make to him if you move in first or not? If the proposal’s going to happen, you’ll be there soon enough, so it shouldn’t matter to him whether it’s before or after the proposal.

        I think he liked the idea, but once he bought the ring, he realized how serious it is. And maybe because the ring is so expensive and it sounds like he’s kinda broke, he realized that he can’t afford a ring, let alone a wedding. Or he feels like he’s not ready to support a wife, some guys need to feel financially secure before they’ll consider marriage.

        Either way, you need to talk to him. Don’t tell him what your plans for the two of you are, because it seems like from your letter, you’ve already done that on multiple occasions. Instead, ask him what his plans are. What does he see as your near- and long-term future? What are his concerns about the relationship? Because it sounds like there’s something worrying him, and you can’t know what it is till you ask.

      2. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

        I agree about some guys needing to feel financially secure or some other milestone before getting married. My husband wanted to be done his apprenticeship and have his ticket before getting married. It doesn’t seem like a work achievement should affect when you get married but men have life plans too!

      3. Great comment Reifer. I especially agree with your first sentence about some people using moving in as a ploy to put off marriage rather than a natural step towards marriage.

        Also, I couldn’t help but think while I read this letter that the engagement ring sort of served its purpose here. I mean I know not everyone has engagement rings and they’re perfectly happy etc., but just generally speaking, their purpose is to sort of demonstrate a deep commitment in the relationship. And this guy couldn’t commit symbolically, which is sort of an analogy to his overall commitment to the relationship. The milestone weeded him out, so to speak, which is sort of its purpose.

        I dunno I might be a little delirious, I’m super sick right now with a high fever… hopefully I’m making some sense…

    2. I can’t even say how much I agree with this!! The ring freaked him out and now he’s re evaluating the entire relationship.

  3. anonymous says:

    First of all, I have to admit to being a bit confused…how far apart are you physically? And where does he get his money for living expenses, school, etc? Is he living at his parents’ home still? The answers to any of these could change my thoughts on what’s going on.

    1. First possibility: he’s a very responsible, caring guy who’s a bit perfectionistic. At the moment, he has done the responsible thing (returning the ring after being carried away by the impulse of the moment) but feels as though he has failed you and himself. Every call from you reminds him of that failure. I’d leave him alone for a little while, checking in periodically. Failure affects guys very differently (in my opinion): many report a loss of libido, and a distancing. In contrast, women often want & exhibit MORE affection/closeness during a time of failure. Let him lick his wounds in peace, in my opinion. Just tell him again that you love him no matter what.

    2. He’s a manipulative deadbeat who, after freeloading on his parents, is looking for a more fun place to freeload — ergo his demand that you move in together before he proposes. He’s holding out the bait for you so that he gets what he wants: a convenient lay and living expenses paid for. The ring was a setup to get your hopes up, and now he’s hoping that you’ll see his desire for marriage as sincere and will cave on the moving in out of sympathy for him.

    In either case, the answer is, leave him alone for a while. You carry on with your happy life and refuse to allow him to suck you into his drama. You cannot fix this for him.

  4. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

    I’m not good with big picture items so let’s dive into the details:

    1. He thinks you should move in before you get in engaged but you think the opposite. You should come to a decision about that. It sounds like what you’re hoping happens is you say “ok, I’ll move in…” then maybe he’ll propose before you actually do. I think you’re setting yourself up here. Or him. Really, get to the bottom of this and don’t just hope he does what you want.

    2. You keep saying it’s not about the ring… but it sounds like it’s about the ring. Why were you happy up until he bought the ring but then feeling “rejected and unimportant” afterward? If you were feeling rejected and unimportant afterward because of how long it’s taken him to save up and propose to you, then I would assume you felt that right before the ring incident too. If you *believe* these things about your boyfriend, why are you trying to marry him?

    3. You criticized his spending habits (or lack thereof) after grad school, so clearly you feel he SHOULD be able to afford that really nice ring. If he had his head on straight, he would have saved a lot then to be able to afford it now, right? (<– sarcasm, just to be clear)

    4. Have you ever buoght something that was more expensive than you could reasonably afford? I do it all the time. I get home and think "oh fuck that's nutty expensive" and I return it the next day if I can. Maybe this is really about that.

    5. Who wants to hear about my boyfriend? Anyone?

    1. AP, please tell me about your boyfriend! How are you two?

    2. anonymous says:

      Oh, please AP, tell us about your boyfriend…

    3. I want to hear all about your boyfriend!

    4. camorzilla says:

      I want to hear about your boyfriend too!

      1. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        Well, since you ALL asked, I can’t not answer, right? Things are going well. He got my car serviced the other day – you know, where you change this and that and fill up this and that. (I”m not a good car-owner, I can’t even explain what he did.) Isn’t that the sweetest thing in the whole wide world? I’d be happy if I never ever had to deal with car things again. I’d also be happy if I never ever had to carry really heavy items again.

      2. anonymous says:

        I LOVE it when my husband fills up my car. That’s pure heaven.

      3. Chicago-dude says:

        Is that an euphemism for like…oh I dunno…sex?
        Cuz that’s nasty and he’s a lucky fella!

        Time to take my wife to the candy-shop. Oww!

      4. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

        I totally was going to write “getting your car serviced” is that what the kids are calling it? But you beat me to the punch. I’ll go get coffee now.

      5. Addie:

        I think when a guy does things like this, it is the number one way to show he really cares about you. It isn’t just that he is doing a chore for you but it is making sure that the car works and is safe because he wants you to be safe. So sweet.

      6. aw its love AP. jake does all of the car stuff for both of our cars. its so nice not to care about it! haha

      7. My husband is a car guy, and I love it. No more taking the car to Firestone and getting ripped off all the time! He takes care of everything!

      8. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        My fiance takes care of all the car stuff for both of us and I love it. I hate hate hate dealing with car stuff.

        He also always pumps the gas, even if I’m driving. I love it.

      9. sarolabelle says:

        Can I just say I think your boyfriend is SMOKIN’ HOT! Go Addie Pray! 🙂 Seriously, was he a Chip and Dales dancer when he was younger or what? How did you meet him?

      10. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        I custom ordered him from a catalogue of fuzzy bunny breeders, duh! Er, I mean, we were set up by a brilliant mutual friend.

      11. Cherishing deeds are glowy stuff!

        Yay AP!

      12. Avatar photo Addie Pray says:

        I didn’t even mention that time he cleaned my hair out of the drain. It gave me an internal boner!

      13. Oh my!

        TMI … – no! – … go on!

      14. lets_be_honest says:

        I came home last night to my bf wearing a man blazer/jacket thing, no shirt, mesh shorts and argyle socks. I thought he’d lost his mind, but then he told me he was wearing all my favorite articles of his clothing and thought he’d surprise me like women do with lingerie.

      15. Heehee!

      16. 🙂

  5. LW, do you want to spend the rest of your life with this man? As was stated yesterday, unless you can’t imagine your future without your boyfriend in it until you die, you should not get engaged. Your desire to get engaged before you move in “with a boyfriend” doesn’t say anything to me about your unquenchable desire to stay with this man until death. You may feel this way, but it seems that your boyfriend needs more time before he is ready for marriage to you, LW.

    Getting married is a huge decision! Personally, it took me six years of dating and five years of living with my husband before I was ready for marriage. Everyone has different timelines and should never be rushed. If you don’t want to move in with your boyfriend before you are engaged, then don’t move in with him. However, he may not be ready for marriage for a long time. And that’s OK, but are you willing to wait patiently (and not pressure the guy) until he is ready? Communication and compromise is needed in abundance here.

  6. If he seems depressed then you should visit him and have a talk with him about that. Not talking about the proposal or anything like that but the symptoms of depression you’ve noticed. Let him know you love him and support him and want to be there for him if he is struggling.

    That being said, I get the feeling that he doesn’t want to propose to you. And he feels guilty because of everything he’s done -ie. led you on to believe that he would. I would say you need to pull back on calling him and driving to see him (but I am reluctant to say that if he really is depressed).

    I think what you should do is have a straight up talk with him about whether he honestly does see you guys getting married. Say that his behaviour seems to show that he’s questioning whether he wants to marry you.

    And lastly, if you didn’t want to move in with someone until you were engaged then don’t do that! Don’t compromise on your values. You’ll just be angry at yourself in the end.

  7. LW, you say “he is not showing me that I am important anymore by visiting and taking me out or being supportive.”

    Do you really want to be married to a man who won’t visit you or be supportive of you??

    It’s obvious that your boyfriend isn’t ready to be engaged or married, but more important than that, ask yourself if you’d really want to be married to a man like him. Marriage doesn’t simply make things better in a relationship. Oh sure, maybe for the first month, but after that, it almost has a way of magnifying the bad things. It’s VERY important to choose the right person, to choose a person who supports you, and has your back, who looks out for your best interests, who you enjoy being with, who makes you smile more than he makes you frown. It doesn’t sound to me like this is the guy.

    When my husband bought my ring, he had it for less than 8 hours before he gave it to me. He couldn’t wait to propose and spend his life with me, and I felt the same way about him. If either one of you is having doubts like this before you even get engaged, then you are NOT ready to get engaged, let alone get married.

  8. This seems shady. I totally get what you are saying about seeing a wonderful future, and I hope that’s how it turns out for you, but this guy is being really selfish. Many men like to have “all their ducks in a row” before they make a commitment like getting engaged, but the fact that he bought the ring, returned it, and is now treating you differently shows that he is not mature enough to get married in the near future. If the relationship overcomes these struggles, you will still need to give it time to know that he is solidly sure of the decision he’s making before you accept a proposal. My husband strung me along with promises of an engagement for over two years, alternately resolving and then reneging on agreements to buy a ring by a certain time, and I regret allowing him to do that to me because of all the angst it caused me. I know many people are against the idea of an ultimatum, but that’s ultimately how I had to deal with the situation–I was not willing to be in the relationship anymore if he still needed an indefinite amount of time to decide if he wanted to marry me. Unfortunately, we had moved in together long before we had a conversation about getting engaged, so I could not use that as leverage as you can. Don’t misunderstand–I don’t think anyone should play games in order to manipulate a guy into getting engaged–but it looks to me right now as if he is the one playing the games because he doesn’t want to lose the comfort of the relationship but isn’t mature and thoughtful enough to be honest in discussing his feelings and fears instead of yanking you around with his every whim. Do not move in with this guy until you are engaged and fee reasonably sure that he is not going to back out. If that is next month, great. If you want to wait until next year, that’s good too. Just be wary of wasting too much time on someone who thinks he deserves all of the benefits of the husband for as long as he wants without giving you any of the commitment and security in return.

    1. SixtyFour says:

      Don’t feel bad about the ultimatum. That’s how my mom convinced my dad to get married. He had been married once before to his high school sweetheart, got divorced, and was really reluctant to ever get married again. After two years together, she told him she wanted to get married and if he would never marry her, she was leaving. He didn’t propose, she left, and then one month later, he came back, said he made a terrible mistake and wanted to spend their lives together. They have been married now for 30 years and are still very much in love!

      1. SixtyFour says:

        Btw – I shouldn’t say “convinced.” She wasn’t playing games with him. She was serious when she left and was going to move on with her life, but then decided she loved him enough to forgive him when he came back and has never held his leaving against him.

      2. Avatar photo honeybeegood says:

        My mom and step-dad have a similar story! I was really proud of my mom for standing up for what she wanted. And they’ve been v happy for many many years now.

    2. I did the “ultimatum” too. It was more like, I’m not happy with how things are. I want to be married to you. So please, figure out if that’s something you want, and tell me, so that I can decide what my next steps are.

      Basically, it’s just telling them to stop leaving you hanging. It’s not “forcing” them to marry you, because I’d hate to be in that kind of marriage. It’s pushing for an answer on whether or not they want to marry you in the near future. You’re allowed to ask that question, considering that it affects the entire rest of your life.

      1. I agree with this approach. It’s more like finding out if you want the same things, if you’re moving towards the same goal, i.e., marrying one another.

        I just can’t get behind the forced engagment though. But I think what you did is completely different.

    3. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

      I didn’t push- but I did prod my husband along the way. There were MANY discussions about what marriage meant, blah blah blah. My husband is the kind of guy who stands in the grocery store for 5 mins looking at the milk thinking “We don’t need it for 2 days, should I buy it now or come back later?” While I’m saying “Just make a fucking decision! It’s milk!” Needless to say, I do the grocery shopping but also most of the minor decisions. Marriage, obviously, is not a minor decision but it was something that I felt totally comfortable saying “this is what I want out of life. If what you want doesn’t match it then we are not going to work in the long run, despite how much we love each other. This is what I have envisioned, what did you have in your plans?”

    4. Agreed 100%. I lived with my ex for 8 years waiting for the proposal and in the end I got fed up. He moved back in with mommy and daddy 600 miles away and I’ve been a single independent chick for about 8 months now. Apparently marrying me looks like the best option in the world after losing me!! He’s desperate to get me back and says he made the worst mistake of his life. Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone?

      In my older wiser years, I definitely wouldn’t move in with this guy. It seems like he is trying to postpone proposing indefinitely. If the LW has made it clear she wants to be engaged before living together, she should stick to that. If she is that important to him, he will make the important decisions.

  9. I read this letter like 3 times & I’m still confused. First, where are you both living right now? Is he still living at home, or has he moved closer to school again (since you say he decided to go back)? What are YOU doing with your life? And, while I’m at it, how old are you?

    You say HE’S 26, but never mention your own age—or even whether or not you’re in school. So there aren’t any clues, except from the tone of your writing. I will say that you sound very young.

    Anyway, it also sounds like right now this guy is your whole world, & your entire focus in life is to somehow get him to propose. I mean, look at what you’re saying: “So I found a job and considered moving in with him so he would propose.” You found a job…SO he would propose? What? You didn’t find a job to, I dunno, have some money? Your goal was to find a job in order to have the means to move in with him…so he would propose?

    Life isn’t a game with the one linear end point of marriage. You don’t need to go through it searching for clues as to how you can get whatever man you’re with to propose to you. It’s not like, Find Work, activate the magic lever, Move In with Boy, take the winding path at half past 3, Win Ring. You need to re-adjust your whole mindset, here.

    Look at the facts. Your boyfriend—in your own words—was reluctant to propose until after you moved in. That could’ve been a bullshit excuse, or not. But regardless, you considered bending your own values for the coveted prize of The Ring. Okay. You then wind up at the mall SHOPPING FOR RINGS, despite the clear signs that neither of you are ready for this. I love your summary of how this went down—I mean, isn’t it a pretty involved process, picking out a ring? Complete with salesmen/women fawning over you? I can’t believe it was just a “no, no, don’t buy anything…oooh, but I really like THAT ONE….but no! don’t!….oh, well, only if you mean it….” as he rushed to buy this perfect diamond despite your protestations.

    Why were you even looking at rings at this point? Ohmygod, I’m trying not to go BGM-harsh on you, or judge you in a stereotypical “Woman Drags Man to Ring Shop” way, but that’s reaaaaaaaally what it seems like you did. He is right…you moved too fast for where your relationship stands at the moment.

    I understand that you’re hurt, because nothing is going the way you planned. And the man you love is pulling away. So my advice to you—pull away from him too for now (at least in the sense of deep-feelings conversations). Tell him you’d love him to come visit you, & when he arrives, you need to have an open, honest talk about what HE really wants. I feel like he unfortunately may only be telling you what he thinks you want to hear (“yes, I want to get engaged.”)

    He’s probably not as ready to marry you as *you* feel ready to marry him. I say “feel ready” because you’re NOT READY either. Are you financially ready (I’m guessing no)? And have you talked about the logistics of marriage? It’s more than a ring & shared living space. I wish you luck with everything—& sorry for the epic, maybe kind-of-mean post. I just think you need to do some re-arranging of your thoughts & expectations about getting engaged.

    1. Eagle Eye says:

      Yes! Something about this letter rubbed me the wrong way – maybe when she said something about when they saw the ring they both liked she was kind of nagging him about it, and then when he returned it there was a bit of an ‘i told you so’ thing happening. It just struck me as a little odd and maybe a bit controlling?

    2. SixtyFour says:

      Yeah, I felt the same way with the age thing too. The fact that she didn’t mention it led me to believe that they started dating when she was like, 16 and he was 24, and now she’s 18 and he’s 26. Especially the part about getting a job to move in with him. Like maybe she’s in her first semester of college and living at home but will drop out and get a job to be close to him?

    3. You are right. That line about getting a job and moving so he would propose was bizarro world. It suggests that the LW was doing nothing with her life except lounging at her parents’ house and waiting for a proposal so somebody else would support her. She may be as immature as he is.

      1. Ditto.

      2. I third.

    4. Chicago-dude says:

      Speaking as one guy, this “I’ll do anything as long as I have a diamond ring on my left ring finger.” is such a turn off.
      Not gonna let ole boy off the hook but he shouldn’t be playing that game if he truly isn’t ready to make that commitment either. He should use this to learn that his words carry meanings & expectations (and failure to deliver will end is sad Dear Wendy letters like above).

      You both need to chill out, talk about things and pick up from where you left off without a quid pro quo to moving in and a ring/proposal. Both events should happen because you want it to not because you’re 26 and have been together for like errmagawd forever.
      You’re both still young bucks. Use this as a learning moment.

    5. Thank you. I was SHOCKED that so many people are hinting to the LW that she’s going to get engaged soon. The last thing this couple is ready for is marriage, and I’d be totally shocked if this guy proposes any time soon.

    6. OMG, I could not agree more. I know there are limitations to what can be communicated through a single letter to Dear Wendy, but it certainly seemed like the end game here was The Proposal, The Ring, To Be Engaged. Nothing about being married, having a life and a future together. Here’s the thing: being engaged when you move in together is a guarantee of exactly nothing. Have we not all known couples who were engaged for years, without ever making wedding plans? You need to have a serious conversation about COMMITMENT, and whether he even envisions a life with you, growing old together. Focus on your future together. If you have no doubts about your mutual intentions to be committed to each other for the long haul, a formal engagement is just icing. Oh yeah, and definitely DON’T “move in with him SO he will propose”. (I can just see how that will go down…rounds of “well I moved in, where’s my ring” vs “stop pressuring me”, day after day! Sounds great! NOT!)

  10. Your problem isn’t that your boyfriend returned a ring he bought on impulse and couldn’t afford. Your problem is your boyfriend is making no investment of his time or energy into the relationship you do have.

    You are no where near ready for marriage – because that is what an engagement ring says – I’m ready to marry you. He did nothing for a year and then went back to school and now doesn’t have time to talk to you or see you and couldn’t be bother to drive to where you are and just keeps giving you lame excuses about his behaviour.

    If it is a question of logistics then why can’t you set up a schedule for visits? He drives one week -you drive the next. Spending time is necessary for a healthy relationship. If it is a question of desire though – if he isn’t interested in putting in any time or energy into your relationship, then what exactly is your plan? How long are you going to be miserable? And why would you think a ring will magically fix that? Your relationship needs serious work. Tell him that because being engaged to someone who makes you unhappy is no great win…just the opposite.

  11. I feel for both of you! There is not enough info to really be confident of any sort of “diagnosis” — but has that ever stopped us?


    My take is that the guy simply does not handle change well. He feels threatened by it, and reacts by getting panicky and impulsive. Here, he wants the benefits of an engagement/marriage w/o the change (marriage) itself. He wants to buy an expensive ring but not the debt.

    In contrast, the LW wants real relationship progress(ion) including the symbols and public tokens associated with it. More than that, though, she wants the guy to demonstrate public confidence that she and their relationship are culminating, including the self-confidence that those steps require. His inability to do these things threaten her, including her self-worth and faith in her judgment that he is the right guy and that their relationship will endure.

    I think the LW has lost confidence that the guy will EVER be ready to commit to her, and I think she is right for the forseeable future. She fears she may be “trapped” into one of those never-ending near-engagements that never turn into true marriages. I think she is right to have those fears, and she should seriously begin to step away.

    Her problems may not be over, though. My guess is that the guy will panic and propose whatever it is he thinks LW needs to hear. The risk would be then that the guy would forever feel entrapped. I think the guy is not marriage material now. I am so sorry, LW!

    1. I’d feel better about this guy if he had gotten a job in the year he was out of school. I’m guessing that after a year, his mother gave him the ultimatum of back to school or out to work. He chose school. If he had a burning interest in continuing his education and moving toward a particular career, he would have just done so or gotten an unpaid internship to gain experience and a resume point in that field. He would not have lazed around his mother’s house for a whole year.

      1. I agree.

        I would add that living with mommy (just like he did before college) is another example of change avoidance and absent self-confidence and, frankly, immaturity.

  12. LW it sounds like your boyfriend is pulling away…i’m sorry for that, i know it probably hurts a lot…from the outside looking in i would say this relationship is on the way to being over…he just may not be man enough to say that to you…if I was you I would move on, you deserve someone who will put effort into seeing you and being with you…it takes two people to have a relationship and it seems from your letter that you are the only one putting any effort into it now (i think him returning the ring was also a red flag that demonstrates he is not sure about your future together)…i guess in short your boyfriends actions seem to indicate that he does not want a future with you

  13. It all seems so sneaky and mysterious. Is this how you want your life to be? Him making all the big decisions (where to live, what to do, when to get engaged) and not letting you have any input. However awesome surprise proposals must be, they are only worth it if they are mutually agreed upon in advance. If the ‘price’ of an engagement is making it the MOST surprising, or the MOST important, then its really just some guy making himself feel special.
    If you want to get engaged, ask him ‘Are we going to be engaged by February?’ and make sure you get an answer. If you get an answer you dont like, TELL HIM, ‘Nope, I need to know what my life is going to look like before I commit to a person being in it.’ How can you possibly commit to spending your life with someone who is waffling on how to ask you one simple question? You know whether you want to marry him. Why is he not so clear on it?
    Dont move in until you have an answer. In my opinion you already have one.

  14. kerrycontrary says:

    I don’t think this is about what it’s about. I.E., it’s not about the ring. I don’t think that you’re boyfriend is ready to be engaged no matter what he says (is he scared you’ll break up with him if you don’t get engaged in the near future), otherwise he wouldn’t force you to move in with him before he proposed. If he was going to propose soon, what’s the difference? If it was important to you to be engaged before you move in together (I’m the same way), then you should’ve stuck to your guns on that one. I think that once the possibility of a real future together and commitment was on the horizon, your boyfriend totally freaked. And he’s still freaking out. Now he’s pulling away. And what’s with him not visiting you? When you are in a long distance, or a short distance, relationship, one person should not be putting in all the driving time or effort. I think he’s trying to tell you in a not so subtle way that he’s just not ready, and he may never be ready to marry you.

  15. This is a case of you and your bf being at very different points in your lives. You have accepted the responsibilities of leading an adult life. He has not and is clinging to the freedom of childhood. That makes you a mismatch unless and until he grows up and stops fleeing adult responsibilities. A mature and responsible adult woman moving in with a man-child is almost a guarantee of grief to come. You really shouldn’t want to be engaged to him, until he demonstrates more maturity, nor should you uproot your life to move in with him. Your relationship does not appear to be on the soundest ground, and you don’t want to move without that.

    That said, you are over-blowing the ring purchase — big time. Returning the ring says nothing about his feelings for you or his wanting to be in a relationship with you. He made the overly grand gesture to get a ring he couldn’t afford to meet your hurdle for moving in with him. He quickly realized that he had impetuously done a very foolish thing and returned it. If the ring incident means anything, it is just further evidence of this guy’s immaturity.

    I think you should MOA. You and bf are too big a mismatch. To explain why he doesn’t visit you now — he’s a little boy and he’s pouting. He’s making you come to him and deliberately putting zilch effort into the relationship. He wants what he wants, whether it makes rational sense or not, and you have balked his desire. Do you really want to be his Mommy as well as his lover? Not to mention paying way more than your share of the bills. I hope not.

  16. He might be saying that he still wants to be engaged to you, but his actions say he wants to renege on the engagement, and potentially the whole relationship. You may love this guy, and maybe he loves you too, but do you want to be with someone who cannot fully express how they feel about you? Personally, I wouldn’t want to be with someone who was so indeceicive and emotionally crippled about discussing a potential future together, let alone HAVING said future. If you are similarly convicted, I suggest you MOA.

  17. This a bit all over the place, but let me see if I get this. So you he wanted you two to move in together, but you wouldn’t do it because you wanted to be engaged first, so when you found out he wasn’t on board with that you told him you would move in hoping that would actually get him to propose anyways? Then you went ring shopping, fell in love with a ring so he bought it even though it was too expensive for his budget; so after you told him that he didn’t need to spend that much on you, he returned it, but planned to buy you a ring he could afford? After he returned it, because you said you were ok with that, you then felt rejected and unimportant? So now that you feel rejected, and unimportant he is acting different, not wanting to hang out with you as much anymore, and does not make much effort in the relationship.

    So I have two theories here…
    1. He is getting ready to propose again, and acting like an idiot while doing it, but I think this is less than 50% that this is going to happen.
    2. Once he returned the ring, your perspective has changed on this man (went from thinking you were starting this great life, to basically calling your BF a moocher who lives with his parents, and doesn’t want to get a part time job even though he has plenty of time) and he is picking up on this, he is picking up on the fact that you are no longer happy in this relationship, and it sounds like he is starting to fade away from it.

    LW You have every right to want the things you want in your relationship, but you can’t force those things on him, he has to do things in his own time, and talking about it for a whole year straight probably prolonged this, because guys are idiots, and the more you push the more they make you wait to make it seem like their own idea. If he isn’t ready now for such a big commitment, you need to find out if you are willing to wait, and if you are you have to set a timetable up for yourself with how long you are going to wait for this guy to be on the same page as you.

    Also next time you see this guy just talk to him, as painful as it is going to be sit him down, and talk to him, and see what the heck he actually wants, and don’t stop talking to him until you find out what the heck he actually wants!

    1. This is pretty good bagge. I agree with everything you said.

      Also, I want to add . . . you know what happens when you push people to marry before they are ready? Either divorce or a lifetime of unhappiness. I truly believe that. Has it worked out for some people? Maybe, but I but it’s rare.

  18. Sue Jones says:

    Grow up, forget about the ring, forget about your “timetable” of wanting to be engaged and married already, take your time, delay moving in, and back off a bit on your expectations. Pushing for a proposal is NOT the way to go. Wait until you are both ready. And if he wants to propose with a ring made from tinfoil, so what? What is it with young women these days wanting their young guy who doesn’t have a lot of money to indebt themselves over a ring anyway? Save your money for a down payment on a house! The same goes for huge expensive Bridezilla weddings, IMHO. The relationship will be much happier and last longer if you don’t push the guy too much over this stuff.

    1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

      While I agree with your overall point (pushing someone into an engagement is not a good idea) I disagree with your other points. If couples can afford it and want to have a large, lavish event to celebrate their wedding, then that is their choice. Having an expensive wedding doesn’t mean your a bridezilla or making poor choices. If you save up to pay for a $5,000 or $10,000 ring and that’s what is right for you and your SO then go for it.

      I know someone on DW had a more expensive/lavish wedding and spent a good bit of time saving up with her then fiance to pay for it, because it was the wedding they both wanted…I can’t remember who though.

      1. I think she meant specifically for people who don’t have a lot of money. I agree with her. If you can afford a big wedding, and that’s what you want to spend your money on, then go nuts! That’s what my hubby and I did. But we budgeted beforehand, making sure we’d have enough for a downpayment on a house, before we decided to essentially “blow” a ton of money on a party. But if you clearly don’t have the money, then it’s a bit crazy to start your life together in that kind of debt. It will start causing problems right away, which is the last thing a newly married couple needs. Either wait and save up for what you want, or cut down the scope of it to something you can actually afford.

      2. theattack says:

        I think that was evanscr? But I’m not sure if I got the name right.

      3. lets_be_honest says:

        Hey, how was last Saturday?

      4. theattack says:

        I didn’t go to the party myself (made plans before I got this job), but it was a huge success! We were forced to push back the date for the kids’ getting their gifts though, because some of our biggest donors were late bringing them by. I’m currently surrounded by presents and garbage bags full of presents in my office, and the parents have been coming in to pick the stuff up all day, which is wonderful! We ended up having 19 kids who didn’t have sponsors because several people backed out on the kids at the last minute (….I feel like I don’t even need to say anything about how horrible that is), and yesterday our biggest sponsor brought by their gifts, and the kids had hardly anything. There was a two year old who was given an old stained t-shirt and one toy lipstick. So the past two days have been a major crisis for us, and I feel like I’ve been part of a miracle here as we’ve had enough last minute donations come through (THANK YOU, EVERYONE!!!) that we could pull things together. We had exactly enough money (We were $3 within our budget!!) to shop for all of the kids who didn’t have anything and for the kids who were given unacceptable presents. It was an extremely close call, and every dollar has really counted here.

      5. geez, a stained shirt and a toy lipstick? wtf??? were people confused about what “christmas presents” meant?

      6. lets_be_honest says:

        Glad to hear you were able to work it out. The only thing I can think about people who rescind on gift offers for kids is karma’s gonna get them. Ugh.

      7. Next year, let’s set something up weeks in advance so you have plenty of money and plenty of time to buy good gifts. If you want, I mean.

      8. the attack says:

        I would love that!

    2. Temperance says:

      Meh, my ring is from Tiffany. I love it, it’s the ring that he’s wanted to buy me for a really long time, and it was a surprise.

      If I walked around with a piece of tinfoil on my finger, people would assume that I was either pathetic, crazy, or both.

      1. Sue Jones says:

        You worry too much about what other people think. 😉 But really, when my husband and I got married, we had a small private ceremony at my house, but we forgot to get rings! Seriously! The thought just didn’t cross my mind that I needed an engagement or wedding ring… so we used tinfoil ironically. But we did get eventually the cartier 3 color gold wedding bands and I eventually inherited a huge diamond ring with emeralds from my mother, so I have the bling ring. I guess I am just not girlie enough, or too hippie in my upbringing to put so much weight on all of that stuff. And yes, we used our money for the purchase of a nice house. Getting a mortgage together is a more serious symbol of commitment in my worldview!!!!

        But I used to work at a lawfirm and the secretaries all had/required bigger engagement rings than the higher paid female attorneys who were getting married at that time. I found that interesting – like if you are a professional and you have your own sense of worth you don’t need the same types of trappings…They still had trappings alright but they were different…

  19. I don’t think he regretted the expense of the ring. I think he regretted buying a ring. Otherwise, why wouldn’t he just buy a cheaper one and move on? Especially because he told you that he thought you were moving too fast. That’s clearly about the engagement, not whether he spent too much money.

    A person who wants to marry you shouldn’t have to be hounded to visit you. And if you’ve been together for three years, I doubt he actually feels like you have to invite him in order to make that happen. I’d talk to him again and make sure he understands that his behavior is greatly endangering your relationship. And if you feel strongly about not moving in with someone before you’re engaged, don’t do it. A friend of mine had the same rule for herself, and her guy was fine with it and waited until he’d proposed to have her move in.

    I’m not really sure why everyone is jumping to the conclusion that the LW feels unimportant and rejected because she’s not getting an expensive ring. I mean, really, she goes on to describe that he’s barely showing an interest in seeing her and instead of purchasing a cheaper ring or proposing without one, he just decides not to propose (for now) at all. She doesn’t even use those words until after mentioning several other issues, like him saying they’re moving too fast. Just because someone mentions an expensive ring (that they told their boyfriend they didn’t even want) doesn’t mean they’re a money-grubbing jerk.

    1. SweetPeaG says:

      Yes! I mean, she told him not to buy it!

    2. Alternative to expensive diamond rings – consider another gemstone. I told my husband I like sapphires better than diamonds, and (according to his mom and sister) he combed the city looking for a sapphire that matches my eyes. 🙂 Diamonds are overpriced because of the cartel that controls the raw diamonds. They’re not actually worth what they’re sold for, and you can never sell them back for that same amount, so they don’t make a good investment. So just be aware that if it’s something you really want, that’s fine, but you’ll be paying a lot for it. If it’s worth it to you, then go for it. If not, rubies, emeralds and sapphires are also “precious stones”, and beyond that, there are a ton of different and unusual “semiprecious stones” that would make a beautiful ring.

      1. my boyfriend asked me a few weeks ago if i would like a ring with something different then a diamond, and i told him of course!

        not even going into the sick politics and all the people that die related to diamond trade, but other stones are so pretty! why shouldnt we use them? i think its a great idea.

      2. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        There are some conflict free diamonds from Canada.

      3. yes, but people just go to the mall, as referenced in this letter… to get the conflict free ones you have to 1. care, and 2. actively seek them out… its kind of sad.

      4. Yeah, I’m Canadian, and I have looked at the conflict-free diamonds. Thing is, they tend to cost more than conflict diamonds, probably because we don’t use what is essentially slave labour to mine them. And since I already think diamonds are a huge rip-off, there’s no way I’m going to pay even more for a conflict-free one. I got a conflict-free sapphire for much less than a diamond, mounted in a recycled platinum ring. It’s beautiful and relatively inexpensive, and I can look at it without feeling like I was totally had, and knowing that no one died for it.

      5. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        katie and riefer I totally agree with your points. I was just throwing it out there that you can buy a diamond with a “clear” conscience if you reallllllllly want a diamond. (And can get past the ridiculous price tag.)

        My engagement ring is from the 1930’s and has less than 1/4 carat worth of diamonds in it and I think it is perfect. There are a million different options for a perfect engagement ring.

      6. Eagle Eye says:

        You can also buy what are essentially ‘cooked’ diamonds, so not mined but made in a lab! I don’t know that the price differentiation is, but they’re ‘real’ diamonds in that the chemistry is the same, although diamond cartels have sued so that they are marketed as ‘fake.’

      7. If I ever get engaged again, I kind of want a saphire. I had a beautiful engagement ring that the ex-fiance picked out from a diamond dealer in Miami. Emerald cut with side diamonds. Absolutey gorgeous on my finger. Of course, I gave it back and now I kind of just want a saphire if it happens. I don’t think anything will compare to that first one. Or hell, I would be fine with a really pretty wedding band and no engagement ring.

        The point is, there are options. And sometimes, not following the norm is fun.

      8. Avatar photo honeybeegood says:

        Just to note there are plenty of shady/tragic/heartbreaking practices with other gemstones, precious metals, and rare metals. Research is indeed key!

      9. theattack says:

        I always wanted a ruby because they’re gorgeous and a lot cheaper, but I ended up with a beautiful diamond. Now that I have it, I’m so glad he went the traditional route instead of what I had in mind. Except now I have to figure out how to get the rubies I want. haha

        Kay’s has a policy against buying conflict diamonds though. I really don’t know how thorough that whole process is, but they’re registered with some sort of anti-conflict diamond organization. I think other chain stores have similar policies.

      10. Eagle Eye says:

        Unfortunately, diamonds from places like Kay’s are probably ‘conflict-free’ but not really conflict-free, if that makes any sense.

        All diamonds on the market are owned by the Cartel, DeBeers I think? Which means, like all monopolies, they’re shady/ underpay workers/ probably bad for the environment in some way or another.

        That said, almost anything we purchased today is surrounded by conflict, so, I guess there’s a bit of a pick your poison kind of feel to it.

      11. theattack says:

        Really that’s true of almost everything we buy anyway. I don’t know that diamonds should specifically be called out for that when a lot of our products are produced under poor labor standards, but I know that I’m preaching to the choir here.

      12. Personally, I don’t think I’d want an engagement ring at all. I don’t really get what the point of it is.

      13. you know what i would love? to go on an engagement-moon. go away somewhere on a quick trip and come back engaged (ring or not, whatever). i think that would be really cool

      14. Good idea!

      15. We did that, only I didn’t know! We went to Hawaii on vacation, and he proposed to me on the beach in Maui. We had talked about marriage and I knew a proposal was coming at some point, but was not expecting it so soon, so it was a total surprise! Amazing. 🙂

      16. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

        I’m all for alternative engagement rings- they’re beautiful! But if someone is seriously taking the amount they could sell the ring back for into consideration then they are NOT ready to get married! Value is one thing, how much I could get for this sucker if it doesn’t work out is a whole nother ball game.

      17. well i dont think that you necessarily see it as “if we dont work out ill get X amount for the ring”- its more of the overall investment of a diamond. wasnt that how it was treated a few decades ago? yea, its a lot of money to buy, but its just like a home- you go into it knowing that if you do x, y and z, you will get so much return on the investment, bla bla bla.

        so, its not so much an exit strategy as it is just being smart about how you use a huge portion of money

      18. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

        That’s what I was saying about value- that’s totally fine. But I’m sure that there are people out there getting married that would think about it as an exit strategy. I think far too many people get married these days with the thought “Well, if it doesn’t work out I can always get a divorce!”

      19. The people I know who are thinking of it as an investment are thinking of it as part of the estate they leave their kids. Also potentially if they have some sort of calamity and they desperately need the money. But they’re going to be shocked when they try to resell it and see how little they can get for it.

      20. My ring has an opal as the center stone, and then small diamonds from my husband’s grandmother’s ring around it. I love the opal! It changes color in the light and just looks so classic.

  20. So the poor guy got in over his head on a ring he couldn’t afford. If you really cared about him and his feelings, you’d let go of the fact that he didn’t take your advice right away (sometimes people don’t operate within your timeline), you’d be supportive and agree with him that he shouldn’t buy something he can’t afford, and you’d let him know that it’s not about the ring; it’s about committing to each other. If you’re hung up on the reality that your dream ring isn’t on your finger and you’re letting that sour the relationship, then you might need to reassess just how much you want this MARRIAGE to happen, not the engagement.

    My husband did not have a lot of money when he proposed to me. There were rings that we looked at that I thought were so, so beautiful, but the price was just too much for him. So because I love him and didn’t want him to feel badly, I showed him some reasonable rings that were also pretty. I’m not going to say that I didn’t eye those other rings with a little longing, but my heart was set on him, not a piece of metal. If you can’t say the same, maybe you need to rethink upending your life for a person you don’t value as much as you should at this stage in the relationship. And maybe him pulling back and not wanting to commit to visit you as much is him acknowledging that he sees how you don’t value him.

    1. Eagle Eye says:

      Another option, in the case of my parents, they were grad students when they got engaged so they just never bothered with the ring at the time (they were saving up for a down payment on a house). Fast forward 25 years and my parents have been quick successful, so, for their 25th anniversary my father bought my mom a beautiful diamond ring.

      It was very sweet!

      1. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        My fiance proposed with a family ring (ie FREE) and I loved it. We might “upgrade” later, but I really love this ring so maybe not.

      2. My mom has my great-grandmother’s wedding ring. I’ve admired it ever since I was a little girl. If I ever get married, I would definitely consider using that ring…. but I have a feeling my mom won’t want to give it up. 🙂

      3. Avatar photo GatorGirl says:

        I didn’t think my mom would give up my great-grandmothers ring either, but she did! So when you get there it doesn’t hurt to mention it!

  21. so i am confused like everyone else.

    first off, the moving in before engagement/engagement after moving in debate needs to be settled as AP said. you cant have it both ways, and the two of you need to come to some sort of conclusion about this before moving forward.

    anyway, the only thing i can gather from this letter is that you two need to come to a conclusion just about your whole relationship in general. there are so many factors going on with move in dates, getting new jobs, rings, expenses related to rings, timelines, long distance, communication problems- i mean, you layed out a TON of issues in this letter. as wendy told me once, you need to get on the same page, and right now it sounds like you two arent even in the same book!

    look, marriage is a huge, huge thing. i know that many women (and i hope that you arent, but you do sound like it from your letter) are just marriage seekers- they could give a shit who its with, they just need that as their life’s accomplishment. and it shouldnt be like that! marriage is not the be all end all to life. its NOT the prize at the end. its a big decision. and, with the divorce rates like they are, i think some people take it really seriously- i know i do, and i freaked the hell out when my boyfriend suggested it in a way that i thought he was serious. and that doesnt *necessarily* mean that i dont want to get married, and it doesnt mean that just because your boyfriend freaked out that he doesnt want to either- but its a huge thing. its (supposed to be) a once in a lifetime decision. it carries a ton of weight. so, honestly, give it the weight it deserves. have a few good, long talks about this. that is the only way i see this turning around for you.

  22. SweetPeaG says:

    I basically picked out my engagement ring. I purposely picked something on the less expensive side. I wanted something with character, but not something that would break my future husband’s bank account. That always seemed crazy to me (but, to each his own). I knew the proposal was coming. Here’s the thing… there was nothing about that time period in my life that wasn’t joyful. My fiance was HAPPY to propose to me! If he had bought a ring and then complained up & down about what a mistake it was, my heart would have been broken. If either party in an engagement drags their feet and acts like a child through the process, it is simply not worth it. Call me crazy, but agreeing to spend your lives together should be a good & happy thing.

    This guy is not ready. Whether it is due to depression or whether it is due to the fact that this relationship isn’t right for him, I am not sure. It sounds like it could be both. He should be taking steps to get better before he worries about proposing. The way he is described, it sounds like he is in a rut. That’s fine. Haven’t we all been in a rut? And if he takes the right steps (whether that be therapy, getting his own place, working out… whatever helps), he can get out of it. But, if he continues to do things like not come see you- well, that’s just a warning sign. If two people have been together for THREE YEARS, there ceases to be the need for an invitation. It just sounds like he is not making the effort. In summation- don’t get engaged just yet. I really wouldn’t recommend it.

    1. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

      My husband had a cold-feet moment before we got engaged. He got all upset and said that he wasn’t ready to propose, to which I said “okay, that’s fine. As long as we’re heading in that direction and it is something that you want to do when you do propose then I am okay with it taking a little longer.” He then immediately calmed down and said he was just feeling overwhelmed in the moment. From then on he was sure in his decision and there was never a question of if it was something he wanted to do. Not at all during the wedding planning did he feel stressed out or get nerves. It was almost bizarre how once he made a decision, that was it!

  23. It sounds like there is a big communication problem here. I know it can be so easy to get caught up in the fairy tale romance of ‘the ring’ or the dream proposal, but long before that happens, both of you should be on the same page.

    I’m reminded of this article: https://dearwendy.com/15-things-every-couple-must-discuss-before-getting-married/ Have you two addressed each of these?

    You two need to talk. About his career and schooling and about your career and school. How much longer does he have in his program? Will you be happy if he chooses a different career path, or is a perpetual student? Do you expect him to bring home enough to support you both, or can you both rely on your income?

    Decide on your living arrangements. Maybe he wants to see if you two are compatible living together before you move in together. Will you live in your area or his area?

    Do you have similar financial goals? He didn’t seem okay spending that much money on a ring you really wanted, be was definitely pressured into it by you and a salesperson. You say you don’t know how much the ring was, but it is clear it was more than he was comfortable spending.

    Do you want children? If so, how soon? How will you support them? It wouldn’t surprise me if you want them soon and he doesn’t want them any time soon, if at all. You’re only setting yourself up for heartbreak if you don’t agree.

    In my opinion, a ring should never be bought until both parties have discussed and agreed to spending a life together. Once that bridge has been crossed, then you can have your dream ring/proposal story. However, this is real life, not a fairy tale, and you must address the lifelong issues first.

  24. Sorry to break it to you, LW, but you are not ready fro engagement or marriage. First of all, getting engaged before living together?! ARE YOU CRAZY?! You learn a ton of things about a person from living together and I wouldn’t advise anyone to become engaged before living together. Secondly, you were basically pressuring the guy to engaged….

    Now for my soapbox portion of my comment: if you pressure a guy to become engaged, you know what you get? You get to live the rest of your life knowing that you pressured a guy into marriage–cool right?? WRONG! The thing about marriage that rocks is that the engagement was a surprise and came straight from the heart. I was ready to be married/engaged a full two years before my husband asked me. He wasn’t ready, and when it comes to marriage, you want the other person to be SURE.

    Sounds like what you want is a wedding–you are in love with the notion of love itself and some vision of marriage that exists in your mind. The real thing ain’t glamorous–it’s a ton of hard work!

    What’s happening to your relationship you ask? You pushed it WAY too hard, too fast. BACK OFF. The two of you need to move in together, see if you are ACTUALLY compatible and then you need to let him decide a pace that is good for him too. A relationship should not be a dictatorship, it is a socialist thing and it takes both people giving and taking. If you love this guy, a ring won’t change that. Do you want to be engaged or just happy together? Your choice.

    1. You can totally get married without living together first, and be successful. People do it all the time. Sure, you learn stuff by living together, but you can learn those things once you’re married, too. Usually they’re not dealbreakers.

      1. lets_be_honest says:

        Yea, I wouldn’t exactly call that crazy!

    2. Some people just really aren’t comfortable living together without the commitment. Like the LW, I’m one of those people. Plenty of people have gotten married or gotten engaged without living together first and it worked. Just because something doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean it won’t work for other people.

      1. I’m on the same page as you. I see no value added to living together before marriage – I think you can learn just as much about a person not living with them as you can living with them. I like living alone and don’t want to uproot my life without a commitment from someone else.

  25. Sounds to me like you’re really pushing this guy to propose to you. It also sounds to me like he’s not ready to do that. No wonder he’s depressed.

    Back off. Seriously. Enjoy the relationship you have, and stop trying to force it into being something it’s not ready to be yet.

    Or, if you simply want to be married, then let the poor man go and find somebody who’ll give you the relationship you’re fantasizing about.

    1. This is so simple and straightforward and, in my opinion, right on the money. Seriously, you could have even stopped after this line: “Sounds to me like you’re really pushing this guy to propose to you. It also sounds to me like he’s not ready to do that. No wonder he’s depressed.”

      In other words, WES!

    2. Agreed – WES

      It sounded to me like they have talked about the future, but that doesn’t mean he’s as ready to be engaged as she is. I think she just needs to chill out.

  26. Avatar photo lemongrass says:

    Why do you want to get married to him? Not married at all- but to him. He’s clearly not ready and has issues that need to be dealt with long before marriage. Those issues don’t go away with a pretty white dress and there is a whole hell of a lot (like the rest of your lives) that comes after that day. It’s obvious he wants to please you and to be with you but IS NOT READY for the steps you are pushing on him. Quit focusing on getting a ring and focus on your lives. Find somewhere else to live and do what you need to do to get him in a healthy headspace, which includes tabling the discussion of marriage for now.

    I really think that you need to look at what your motivations are. Saying how he should have money saved up for your ring already since he took a break from school- yikes! You do not get to determine how your boyfriend earns and spends money. That is so not your place. Frankly, you seem a bit selfish and immature to not care about how your boyfriend feels about getting married which will not work out in the long run. Marriage requires a lot of selflessness to work!

  27. Don’t have time to read the rest of the comments right now, but this is about so much more than returning an expensive ring.

    I can relate to this so much. It sounds to me like he is questioning your entire relationship right now. I say that because his actions sound similar to my ex’s actions right before we broke up last month. As much as it sucks, it sounds like he is pulling away which is of course never a good sign.

    I’m the same boat as you in the fact that I want at least an engagement before deciding to live with a significant other. This was something my ex and I completely disagreed on. He said he wanted to live with me to figure out if he was ready to take the next step whereas I wasn’t willing to if I didn’t get a commitment first. I couldn’t tell from your letter if you had moved in with him or not, but all I can say is don’t let him manipulate you into moving in without an engagement if it makes you uncomfortable. If he really really wants to be with you, he will make things work while living apart and respect your wishes. My ex didn’t even try to make things work when we were living separately but closer together than we ever had (we had been long distance for three years). I am SO GLAD I stuck to my guns with the living situation. Bottom line, I wasn’t ready for it. He showed me how little he cared by not even trying to make it work.

    Have a serious talk with your boyfriend. Be open and honest with each other. Tell him that you are concerned about him. Try your best not to put your relationship on a timeline. If things are meant to be, they will work out.

  28. The letter bugs me just as much as everyone else. The letter writer comes off as just wanting to be engaged and on her way to marriage. She says ” Over the past year, I have firmly expressed my desire to be engaged before moving in with a boyfriend”. “A boyfriend”, not him specifically. I am guessing she is of the age that all her friends are are getting engaged, married and popping out babies.

    My advice would be to take a step back. Be happy with yourself, determine what you really want and need for life, before tying yourself down to the first guy to propose to you.

  29. I feel like he is second-guessing things. I don’t know if that’s the normal, momentary “Oh wow, this is REAL now” rush of preparing to get engaged, or if it’s real doubt. But either way, he needs space and support. If I were you, I’d act like engagement wasn’t even on the table for a little while and let him regain his footing.

    Also, to all girls who can’t wait to get the ring: Get yourself the ring you love. I have actually had three (count ’em, THREE) messed-up engagements and I can tell you that if I ever do get married, I’ll be happy with a gum wrapper twisted around my finger, because it really doesn’t matter anymore. In a wholly separate vein, though, I love jewelry – and I’d rather pick it out and pay for it myself than have a guy do it. If you want a ginormous diamond ring, buy one for yourself! If you’ve always dreamed of a birthstone ring, buy it yourself! Wear it on your right hand, where it wherever you want – and if you do this for yourself, you won’t flip out over ring issues when it comes that time.

  30. I read through all the comments hoping the LW would chime in and clear up some of the confusion, but all I found out is that everyone else found the letter as confusing as I did.

    Confusion aside, my advice is: back off. Stop pressing, stop bringing it up, stop obsessing about THE RING THE RING THE RING and the proposal. Stop planning to move in with him. Chill out and see what happens over the next few days/weeks. He made an impulse decision; he regretted it; now he regrets upsetting you. Whatever he’s struggling with internally, you pushing him will not make it better. So take a step back and see what he does.

  31. Now that I’ve read more comments, I don’t really get why everyone is chastising the LW for pushing her boyfriend. How many times have we or Wendy told an LW that she should set a timeframe for when she wanted to be married? This guy is a grown man. If he didn’t want to buy a ring, then he didn’t have to. He also should be mature enough to tell her what it is that he does want — to break up, to never get engaged, to get engaged in six months, etc. And if we’re talking about pressure, he was doing enough pressuring himself to get her to move in with him. I just personally wouldn’t want to have to walk on eggshells about my future and be afraid to tell my boyfriend what I want because he might get scared and pressured.

    1. Sue Jones says:

      I have no problem with LW saying what she wants. But it doesn’t mean that she is going to get exactly what she wants from THIS guy. And the main thing, is that marriage is serious and it is about co-creating a future TOGETHER. If they cannot figure out this issue of the engagement, the ring, living together, then FORGET about marriage. Marriage is full of compromises. Always. So yeah, one person states what they want, then the other person responds and also gets to say what they want and hopefully they get to compromise and find something that works for both of them. So LW says ” I won’t live with you without a ring” and BF says ” I want to live with you but not so sure about the ring or the proposal right now” then LW either keeps the line in the sand and she MOA’s or they come to a compromise which might be “Let’s revisit the idea of marriage in 6 months” and she doesn’t move in just yet. OR something like this. If they cannot figure this out, then neither of them is ready for the next level of commitment.

  32. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen: May I please present exhibit A to the court. This is a classic example of why one should NEVER even try to pressure anybody into an engagement. It can and will only end badly. Sadly, I see no solutions to this particular case. None whatsoever. Let it stand alone as an example to others of what NOT to do…

  33. Skyblossom says:

    What I don’t hear in this letter is any sense of commitment. No talk of how you plan to spend your lives together. I firmly believe that the commitment must come before the engagement. You need the commitment to be at the level where there is no doubt in your minds that you will spend your lives together regardless what happens. You need to have a level of commitment where you would live your lives together even if marriage didn’t exist. When you have that level of commitment you are ready to get engaged but not before that point. I hope you understand that what I am saying is that the engagement and marriage are not the commitment. The commitment must exist first and then leads to engagement and marriage.

    You need a commitment that says we will be together and then you naturally develop a timeline that works for both of you. Where he would feel comfortable saying I want to spend my life with you but I know that I also need to finish my education for that life to work so I need to finish school before we get married. Where you would feel comfortable saying let us get engaged when you have one year left of school. Where the two of you are happy to have these conversations. Where the two of you are happy to spend time together.

    All I’m really hearing is that the two of you give conditions to each other. Where one says I have to live together to get engaged and the other says I have to get engaged to live together. I don’t hear anything long term. I just hear each pushing for what they want as if you can’t find something that will make you both happy and if you can’t find some way to make you both happy then maybe you don’t belong together. If you can’t work this out how will you make marriage work?

    Getting engaged shouldn’t be full of conditions and stress. It should be a happy time full of promise and the joy of knowing that the two of you are working together to make your joint life happen. It should never be a burden on either of you. If someone is dragging their feet that is a huge red flag that there are problems that would undermine a marriage. You need to step back and evaluate. Does he want marriage? Does he want marriage with you? Does he fear marriage? Does he have goals he wants to achieve before getting married? What about you, what are your goals for the marriage and beyond the marriage? What do you envision doing with your life and how does that work with your desire for marriage? If you can’t work these things out in a way that makes you both happy then you should move on and find someone more compatible. We all are capable of falling in love with people we can’t be happy with long term. Most of us have been there and I know it is a hard decision to walk away but sometimes you need to and sometimes everything works out and the relationship will last.

    1. AliceInDairyland says:

      Sky Blossom, this was absolutely lovely. And well articulated. This is what I am aspiring towards. Even if having seriousgrownupconversations kind of still scare me a little bit. They still need to happen.

  34. Are you even partners? You don’t sound like it. You sound like you’re desperate for him to make you feel validated by spending a bunch of money and oh-so-romantically “surprising” you (har har) with a proposal, while he, frankly, sounds desperate not to do that. I’m with him. If you’re going to get married you’re going to be partners in life. If you’re going to be partners in life you need to share burdens with him. If you were sharing the burden with him you’d realize the ring you think is so pretty is too much money, and you’d realize spending money you don’t have is no way to start your lives together. You sound like you want to be a bride but not a partner. That’s not keeper material.

    Edited to add: Or, just what Fabelle and Skyblossom said. They were a lot kinder.

  35. If its buyer’s remorse, I could see your boyfriend returning the ring and getting another one he is more comfortable with. But if he’s acting shady, being caustic with you no matter how you treat him, then there is something more going on. It’s not about the ring, and perhaps he purposely bought one out of his range, knowing he had a ready made excuse to take it back.
    From your letter I can tell:

    His path in life doesn’t match your expectations. You are ready for the picket fence and all, but he’s still in school (right? your letter confused me) In any case yall arent on the same page.

    you cant decide where to live. broke up kim k and her ex hubby. ok maybe that wasn’t the only thing but…

    you can’t communicate. your writing in to us instead of talking to your boyfriend. yall get married this isn’t gonna be the last problem.

    tell him you need to clear the air. this non engagement is making things weird and you need to know what is going on. now is the time to honest. does he want to be engaged? what if talk of engagement is taken off the table for six months or so? how important is it for you to have a ring? how about just going to the justice of the peace? where will you live? what will he do with his time? if his answers dont satisfy you, then it might MOA, or I like wendys suggestion of setting a date in the future, without his knowing, and if things dont change by then , then move on.

    Look, its easy to get engaged, to talk about the party and the favors and the dress. the marriage part is the hard part, working through things with someone else is hard, and the “REAL” part is where yall are getting stuck. perhaps for your boyfriend shit got real when he bought that ring and he realized something, perhaps that he’s not ready to get married, or not to you at least. its up to you to find out what.

  36. I think the bigger issue here isn’t that he returned an expensive engagement ring, but rather that you feel unimportant to him in the relationship–which seems to be a result of him not visiting you, his apparent depression, as well as his uncertainty about wanting be marry you.

    You need to re-evaluate your relationship with him, and see if you *really* want to get engaged (and marry) this guy, because he’s giving you more than one sign that he does not want to make that commitment any time soon.

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