I've been meaning to write this up for a while...
The waiting boards are filled with extremely patient brides, and that is so inspirational! However, I'm a guy and I can tell you... sometimes patience can work against you. So I've decided to betray my gender, and write up a quick guide on how to get a guy to propose.
So without further ado, here is Mr. Bee's Three Step Plan for getting engaged! It's actually a Plan and then if that fails, there's a Backup Plan.
First a caveat: if you are dating a wonderful person with whom you have an amazing connection and a mutual desire to make babies and share a future together... just ignore all this. This Plan is for commitment phobes, and for guys who claim to just need some more time before they're ready to commit.
Both the Plan and the Backup Plan are based on watching the girlfriend of my guy friends attempt to get their bf's to make lifelong commitments. I've cataloged all of their mistakes over the years... if they had followed my plan, they would've been engaged in months instead of years.
1) Never bring up marriage or engagement.
Actually, that's not fair - talk of engagement is bound to come up naturally and organically a few times. These conversations are prime opportunities to discuss the future together in an open and honest way.
But I've noticed that a lot of ze ladies have trouble not bringing up engagement on a regular (monthly? weekly?) basis... especially as time goes by. (If this describes you, you may want to skip ahead to the Backup Plan.)
You can literally drive yourself crazy focusing on something you can't control... and by bringing it up, you risk making engagement a loaded topic.
Basically, you want to avoid the trap of nagging. This article has a useful description of nagging: "The most obvious sign that you tend to nag: You've said the same thing five different ways, five different times, and yet you keep on going."
If that describes you, then you may want to reconsider your approach.
2) Remove money from the equation
I can't tell you the number of times I've seen guys saving up to buy a ring, and then heard secondhand about how his girlfriend got frustrated while he saved up. I guess they weren't sure exactly how long the savings process was gonna take... it's tough to wait for an indefinite amount of time without any updates.
If you're concerned that money/saving might be an issue, you can always make it clear that you don't need a ring at all - or that you'd be happy with cubic zirconium or a non diamond. This can speed up an engagement by months or more!
Personally, I had to move some money around over the course of several months to buy Mrs. Bee her ring. Looking back, my number one regret about our engagement is that it didn't happen sooner. Well we got engaged within six months, but if I had bought a CZ ring... it could've been three months and that would have been better.
I could always have upgraded to a real diamond or precious stone later. I didn't know that Mrs. Bee would've been open to a CZ ring until after I had already proposed! What an idiot (me, not her).
3) Set a deadline to implement your backup plan
This is not the same thing as setting a deadline for an ultimatum. I mean, feel free to do that if you feel you must. (I strongly advise against it, but I've heard it works from time to time.)
But what I mean is, set a deadline... and then put committment out of your mind in that time period. Just relax and enjoy the relationship... without the expectations that build up from thinking about an engagement.
My sister once told me that expectations are the building blocks of resentment... I've watched a number of women spend years waiting for an engagement, and then slowly start resenting their SO.
One of my friend's girlfriends would bitterly share in front of company (i.e. me) that she had been dating my friend for 8 years and had nothing to show for it. Umm... awkward silence.
Anyway, it's only natural that you will feel the resentment start to build over time as you wait and wait. When you notice the resentment getting to a noticeable level, it may be time to consider the Backup Plan.
The Backup Plan
This backup plan is really just a series of techniques you can use to create a feeling of control over the uncontrollable.
PLEASE NOTE: the backup plan is not an attempt to manipulate your partner. It is a way that you can regain some control over your life, and prevent the curse of bitterness and resentment that can rip a long term relationship to shreds.
The fact that it also just HAPPENS to result in engagements is just icing on the cake. :-)
Here's the god's honest truth: a lot of guys just fall into a comfort zone over time... and they don't want things to change. They're happy with the way things are... and they're wondering, why aren't you?
Before you go insane answering such a dumb question, consider this three step backup plan as a way to restore your sanity and your sense of control.
1) Pretend in your mind that you've just been through a breakup.
What would you do after a breakup? You'd probably cut your hair, join the gym, start meeting up with girlfriends more.
Do all of these things (except for cut your hair), and if your SO asks what's up... just say that you've been in a funk and you're trying to mix things up.
2) Start focusing on your own interests, especially if you've been super focused on the relationship.
Make it a point to meet with other people: meet up with your girlfriends more, go to book readings, check out that new restaurant you've been meaning to go to but your SO never wanted to go to - go with a friend instead.
(If your SO is super jealous, then you may want to do this with only girls...I don't mean to suggest you sabotage your relationship).
3) Invest in yourself.
Buy that DSLR you've been thinking about getting, and take that Photoshop class you've been considering. Get that gym membership, and go every day even if you don't feel like it.
The basic idea here is to focus on something you can control: your own needs and desires. Waiting for someone to propose is totally beyond your control, which is just exhausting. By focusing on things you can control, you can quickly regain control over your feelings and your life.
In the meantime, it just happens that there is a wonderful side effect of you focusing on your own interests and investing in yourself.
First of all, you start to become the person you were when your SO first fell in love with you! You probably had a lot more of your own interests and passions when you guys first met and fell in love... so this is a way to recapture that.
But even more than that, focusing on yourself breaks the relationship out of the comfort zone. The guy kinda wakes up and realizes, hey this fine lady isn't going to stick around and wait for me forever. I need to make a decision here about whether or not to move on to the next level!
This is very different from an ultimatum. In an ultimatum, one person says to the other: "You need to decide on marriage by ___ or I will leave you." Here, you're just gently reminding the other person (and yourself!): "Hey, I'm an interesting person and I'm going to focus on myself for a while."
Trust me, your partner will DEFINITELY notice a difference.
If you guys watch The Office, remember when Pam moved to New York to go to design school and Jim realizes that he's losing her and that he can't wait to marry her any more?
I was actually secretly advising Pam that whole time... she implemented every element of my three-step Backup Plan for getting engaged. True story.
Ok that's it for my three step plan (and my three-step backup plan). My fundamental belief is that most men want to get married. All you have to do is get out of the way...
To any guys out there that are reading this... please forgive me for betraying our gender. I have only your long term happiness in mind... studies have shown that married men are happier than single men!
To all the Waiting ladies out there... I wish you all but the best of luck!
Much love and luck,
Mr. Bee you are the master. Is this an excerpt from your new book? hehe :)
Edit: I just sent a copy of this to my gf!! I can see it turning into a new chain letter in our circle of friends lol.
Mr. Bee this rocks! Like Recessionista I'm going to be forwarding a link of this to friends - very, very good advice.
I can't believe you took the time to write all this out. It is great advice and I agree that it will work in most cases. Thanks for taking the time to write.
mr bee, you are simply amazing! thanks for the guide. i'm sure it will be very popular around these parts!
I LIVED the Back Up Plan. And suddenly I was engaged long before I thought he would catch on! Excellent advice!
Soon2BeMrsC - Would love to hear more on what worked for you!
The Weddingbee boards, and especially this post, have been a huge wakeup call to me how incredibly lucky I and most of my friends are to have men who are as crazy into commitment as we are. I wish the best of luck to the rest of you, and I'm sure they'll all come around!
Oh my! Mr Bee you are AMAZING I can totally see this becoming legend and doing the rounds like engagement chicken! It's all common sense but it's great to have it all written out like that and confirmed by a man! I had been trying not to bring engagements up but now I think my new year resolution is just to follow the 3-step plan :D if me and SO didn't live together I would print this out and put it on the fridge haha
We had been together for 3 years when I got really good and antsy about the ring. I was going to law school in Orange County and spending every weekend with him in San Diego, where he still lives and works.
We'd had the engagement talk a few times, but mostly in an unproductive way. It usually consisted of me whining about what a pain it was to commute every weekend and how I wanted "something to show" for my efforts. He'd get frustrated. It didn't help that I think I tended to bring it up when I was already stressed out by school, stuck in traffic on my way to see him, or missing out on something or other in Orange County so I could get to San Diego. We'd end up fighting and not getting any closer to what I wanted.
I finally decided I was sick of the same conversation, the same argument. I was graduating, taking the Bar, and was going to need to get a job. I decided I wasn't going to talk about engagement anymore. I didn't tell him I came to this decision, I just decided that I was gonna let him make up his own mind and that in the meantime, I was going to work on the stuff in my life that needed work, other than my relationship. I set a timeframe, but again, I didn't tell him. I just moved on with my life with no consideration for whether he was going to be a part of it.
I studied. I made more plans with friends. I looked for jobs both in Orange County and San Diego. (I did make sure I let him know I was doing this.) Like you said, Mr. Bee, I got really self-focused. It helped that I sort of had to be, since I was about to study for the bar exam.
It also helped to really, deep-down accept that I couldn't make him do anything he didn't want to do. Even if I talked, cajoled, begged, bullied him into giving me a ring, that was hardly the set up for a happy and fulfilling marriage. I might get the ring, but I don't think you can hold a man that doesn't really want to be held. The other thing was, I didn't want him to propose because I made him do it. I really did want him to come to his own realization that he wanted to be with me. I really think that acceptance was an important part of the equation.
Anyway, the end of this rambling story is that I instituted the back-up plan in March and was proposed to in May. I think once he realized that I was perfectly capable of carrying on without him, he decided he better hurry up and figure out whether he was coming along with me or not. So again, I think the advice you gave is spot-on.
Wow, two months to execute the Backup Plan perfectly, and while you were studying for the Bar too! Impressive...
Thank you so much for sharing this Mr. Bee, from all of us here on "waiting"! :)
One possible scenario I was thinking of while reading The Backup Plan is that if I implement that and my BF goes, "oh well she's got a lot going in her life right now / maybe she doesn't care THAT much about our relationship after all" and bails? After all, this is commiment phobes we're talking about, any excuse will do.
Could you please also let us know possible warning signs when The Plan might be backfiring instead of working smoothly?
Mr Bee you are da bomb! Seriously, that's some great stuff you wrote up there.
LOVE it MrBee!
This is awesome Mr. Bee!!!
Mr Bee, you are a jedi mind trick master, LOL.
Plus, I think The Backup Plan is a great thing for relationships (marriages, too!) in a rut. =]. I think it's easy to lose the "me" in a relationship when you become an "us/we"
I wish I could send this to a friend without outing myself on weddingbee to her, LOL
I think this is great advice!
I also want to add that sometimes we get used to things - I've seen women want to marry their guys because they've become used to wanting/waiting for their guy even though as the years passed they've actually burned out and are no longer in love. A good friend of mine who was probably ready at year 3 and in love broke up with her guy at year 8. The break up was long and on and off and involved him trying to give her a ring - but too late, the feeling was no longer there. I don't think this applies to most waiting bees but make sure you really think about whether you want to marry this guy, just because he's a great guy or you love him doesn't mean he'll be a good husband or a good partner for you. I've also heard of women who pressured a guy to marry them and then initiated the divorce two years later (and not for cheatings as miss nachos). So when he does ask make sure you take the time to think about it during the engagement.
love it mr. bee! I didn't have to implement the plan or back-up plan, but I think it was because I was already living the back-up plan! My last bf I was with for 5 years and so ready for him to pull the trigger, but I was super into "us" and him all. the. time. I really ignored any friends I had or interests. With FI I made a concerted effort to be a whole person outside of our relationship and keep my friends and hobbies and it was 100% different... I think he would have proposed inside a year if I'd given him any indication whatsoever that it was what I wanted!
Mr. Bee, you hit it spot on! I was with my huband for 6 years before he proposed, and at about the 5 year mark, I had started getting antsy. While I never quite became a nagger, I did start mentioning getting married more often, which sent my man into a bit of a commitment-phobe phase. I think because he knew it was getting to be that time, he just sort of started panicking. I COMPLETELY backed off and just kept it in my head that I would not ever mention marriage again until he did, and just a few months later he was suddenly all about it. While I never had to implement the back-up plan, the first step you mentioned was key.
And Cybele, if he bails, he's not the right guy for you... plain and simple.
Wow seeing how long some of you have been patient with your BF's...I almost feel like a nagger now.. because my BF and I have only been dating for 7 months.. but weve been best friends for over 8 years.. and now that we are dating it almost feels thats how long we have been dating..so I'm getting ansy.
So what do you do if he brings it up all the time or alludes to it?
If I stop watching Platinum Weddings I think he'll freak out. But maybe I should!
Mr. Bee you are legend - wait for it - dary. :)
We had a quick propsal (6 mo), but it sounds like good advice!
Cybele - You raise a great point! There's a potential danger of sending the wrong signal to your SO: that you're no longer into them.
I hope I didn't suggest in any way that you should withdraw emotionally or not express interest in doing things together. All I mean is that in ADDITION to all the things you normally do with your SO, you may want to also consider making time to do things that you like by yourself or with your own friends.
The Backup Plan isn't really about the guy - it's about yourself. All it's really saying is, take some time to invest in yourself and your own friendships and interests.
The idea is to take the focus off of something you can't control (someone else's feelings and decisions) and put it on something you do (your own life and your own decisions). The fact that it happens to result in engagements is just a happy coincidence. :-)
mmmtacos - No guy I know will complain if you stop watching Platinum Weddings!
f your guy notices a change in you and remarks on it, I would suggest just sharing that you've been in a funk and that you're trying to change things up. It's the truth right?
This is great advice! I wish I would have read this before getting engaged. I never felt like I was actively waiting for a ring, but I think I brought up marriage a bit too often. :)
@dorsay - Love it!
@Mr. Bee - You really are awesome! Perfect plan!
Oh Mr. Bee, where were you 2 years ago????
Ladies, I did everything wrong. I nagged, we fought, it was the darkest times of our relationship. After we had been together for 2 years, I started to bring it up. When it came up organically, we fought about it. I became very bitter. It didn't help that everyone asked us all the time when we were going to make it official. I set so many deadlines in my head and would just extend them when it became clear he wouldn't propose within that time period. After 4 years of being together, I was ready to move on for myself. I told Lambster I could maybe hang on for another month, but that I was ready to make decisions about my career and moving that could either include or exclude him. Little did I know when we had that conversation that he had the ring. He proposed the next week. I believe that if I hadn't been such a nag and so focused on getting a wedding, that I would have been proposed to much sooner. I wouldn't have wanted to marry a girl acting the way I was acting! My perspective has changed so much since then. I realized what it means to start a marriage, not just plan a wedding.
Take Mr. Bee's advice seriously if you're in that position. Don't do what I did and store up resentment. We still have to work on our issues because my bitterness has not cleared up all the way. It's toxic and it takes a lot of work to get it out of your life. Never let it take hold!
Mr. Bee, I agree with you 100%. I was fortunate enough to be with someone who was ready to get engaged after two months, but I've seen so many women focus completely on getting engaged and become frustrated with their significant others when they don't "bite." I never know how to respond.
I especially like the Backup Plan. #2 and #3 are pretty important general rules to live by, inside and outside of a relationship.
Woooooooooooow Mr. Bee! This is so, so impressive! Kudos! Seriously. This is probably the best thing I've seen for impatient waiting girls in a looooooong time! And it's so complete!
I'm going to write an Ultimatum version, Plan C! Worked famously for me! :)
Mr. Bee this is the SH** - It makes so much sense and I have kept a copy for my GFs who are going through the waiting period!
Wonderful advice, mrbee.
So true Mr. Bee! Every person that comes on here that is waiting, I tell them to not bring up engagement or marriage because it seriously worked for me!
Mr. Bee, you're awesome! That's pretty much all I have to say on that. That's some seriously good advice right there! :-)
"What would you do after a breakup? You'd probably cut your hair, join the gym, start meeting up with girlfriends more.
'Do all of these things (except for cut your hair)..."
LMAO - that really made me laugh. What is it with guys and chicks cutting their hair?! Dudes I know act like it's the kiss of death or something. LOL
Mr.Bee - goodness gracious, sir, you're good! I started realizing these things are what I must do not too long ago - I put the backup plan into effect about a month ago ... started focusing on the things I wanted to do ... started working out more regularly ... I don't even rush to get him up to him anymore! It's tough, cause we're long distance, so it means I really never see him but I know that even if an engagement doesn't come of it I've become a better me through it.
This is great advice - and all true!
Wow Mr. Bee. That's awesome. I totally agree 100 percent on what you said.
Now about the saving part. T was doing that for almost a year b/c when he went in to get the ring (last march) the jeweller talked him into the 3 stone ring, which was alot more. It really added on time to the wait before the proposal, but I think what was comforting was knowing "where" we were going as a couple. I didn't have any worries that he wouldn't marry me, i just wanted that day to come when he'd ask me! Did I get impatient? Hell yea. Especially after the ill-fated, everything-go-wrong Jamaica trip last march where I wanted to cry on the flight home complete with the allergic reaction. Little did I know!
I do think that the not knowing part is what could make a gal a bit more frustrated. Knowing or not knowing what his exact intent is.
How do you advise our waiting buds on that? I know I'm a fan of having a discussion or short talk to find out if indeed you're on the same page in your relationship and then kinda dropping it. T was the one who brought this up luckily when we decided to be mutually exclusive and so that was nipped in the bud. But for those whose guys haven't told relationship direction or feelings yet? I wanna hear from the guru (you) on this one! The man's side is so important to hear.
Btw, I also was secretly advising Pam too! I love the office! It's our fave show! And their marriage (second only to the two Santas/Jesus episode this year) my favorite.
I'm impressed, I actually started doing some of these things on my own, not sure why, but it totally makes sense that it would work now that I read it out like this! I've just never wanted to be one of "those girls" who forces their bf's to marry them and nags about it, it always seems to turn the guy off! And I have been doing more of my own things now, it really is great!! I think it will totally work.
Aww Mr. Bee its so sweet of you to write this! Its so nice you and Mrs. Bee care so much about your readers. Man I love Weddingbee!!
@bellenga - I wouldn't worry too much about what the guy is feeling or thinking. I mean, beyond what you would normally think about in any healthy relationship!
The general idea here is to just take of yourself and focus on what you can control. If you implement the Plan and/or the Backup Plan, the engagement stuff tends to work out on its own.
And if somehow it doesn't, you've made sure to invest heavily in yourself and your friendships and interests! :-)
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