@GamerGirl: I had the exact same feelings as you, in pretty much the exact same situation, and even arount the exact same times. I moved in with my SO 11 months into dating, and even prefaced that with “I do not move in with all of my boyfriends — I want to do this and will if I know you are looking forward towards marriage with ME someday — because I am with you.” At the time he said he was, he had never lived with a woman, and it was important to him to live together first. All fine and good.
Living together was GREAT, but right around the 2.5 year mark, I started to feel frustrated. I felt I knew him well enough and that our relationship was solid enough, and that I was crazy about him enough to want to get married. But, just like you, every time the topic came up, he got all antsy and evasive and acted like it was so obviously WAY too soon — “one thing at a time” was his favorite phrase. This drove me crazy because he too always talked about how he knew I was the one (the day we met??) that he loved me, loved our lives together, wanted me to be the mother of his children and his wife someday, etc. And yet…anytime I expressed my feelings about actually moving forward, I was “pressuring” him and it was way too soon? He also said he already lived his life every day committed to honoring me on the level as he would a wife, and that everything he did was with that in mind. So why was I so hell bent on the ring? He didnt understand it, and therefore didnt see it as much of a priority.
I feel like society has created this idea that women are crazy when having feelings about wanting to be married and are “pressuring” when they talk about these feelings to their men. But at the same time, men are perfectly not crazy when they want to wait, and are perfectly fine and entitled to have the feelings that they are not ready. It finally hit me that his feelings about not being ready or wanting to wait were JUST as valid as my feelings of BEING ready and not wanting to wait to get engaged. No i did not want to pressure him — I would not even want a proposal if it came out of PRESSURE — but i was done not sharing my true feelings when it was apparently totally fine for him to express his every time the topic came up — even if it was just a random reference to marriage and not even me addressing it seriously with him.
So, the way I went about it was this — I told him that maybe he doesnt see the engagement as anything different than what we were currently doing, I did. He had told me in the past that when people are in a serious relationship, they conduct themselves in a different way even when the other is not around. They don’t do anything that could be construed as a disrespect to the other. they also make decisions and lay groundwork for the future both as a COUPLE have agreed they waynt. SO I repeated those two points (of his) back to him, and told him that I do those things. I told him that I feel those are things that a WIFE does, and that yes, I conduct myself at the level of respect, commitment, loyalty, etc to him that a WIFE would. He wants that, he expects it, and as a man, he gets it. But me, as a woman — without the ring, the official engagment commitment, and eventually the marriage, I FELT that I did NOT get all that from him. (I am sure many women dont feel this way, and i KNOW not every one needs that to feel good and equal in the relationship — but this is how I FELT). I told him that the ring and the official engagement were a way of publically legitimizing what our relationship is, and that is why I need it.I told him it was not about rushing him our backing him into a corner, it was about this.
After I put it this way to him, it was like a light bulb went off. I am not sure what it was, but somehow he was able to see why i had the feelings I did and why engagement might be a different thing in my heart and mind than he thought. After he saw how important it really was to me and WHY, he did some serious thinking, and then a month later, we had a serious talk. He said he wanted to start looking into rings and he would surprise me if I liked, or I could pick on out myself (but the proposal had to be his surprise!) We got engaged a little over months later.
This is SOOO long but your story spoke so directly to me I had to post (this is not my usual account since its so personal). I know no two situations are exactly a like, but I really believe that BOTH parties feelings are just as valid and important, and men shouldnt always just be left to “become ready.” I do not believe in ultimatums or nagging, but I think it can really help to really think about WHY you want to get engaged/married, what it REALLY means to you and why, and why you aren’t happy just enjoying the relationship and waiting for him to join you on the same page. I think men get scared of “crazy pressuring women” thanks to society, but if you can take away some of the pressuring/nagging vague language that makes it seem like you JUST WANT TO GET ENGAGED RIGHT NOW and actually explain to your man where you are, he will be much more receptive. Of COURSE, this isnt a magic fix and if he does not have this in him on its own no explaining or talking can force that. But for me it made a huge difference, and I think if he HADNT wanted to marry me any time soon, it would have brought that out sooner too.