How has waiting effected your self-esteem?

posted 1 year ago in Waiting
Post # 31
865 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2020

I think the societal pressure is part of it and may often provide the “spark” for waiting, but I think what makes waiting feel so personal and difficult is the struggle with trust within the relationship itself. Loss of trust can damage self confidence by making you question the reality of your relationship and your partner’s commitment compared to your perception of it. And it doesn’t usually happen in a single watershed moment that flips a switch from trusting and emotionally connected to emotionally disconnected.

At least that has been my experience. I was with my SO for almost 10 years without worrying about engagement. I was in college and then grad school, living independently, doing my own thing and working towards my own career goals. We had both expressed interest in marriage and were content in that level of commitment for years. There was no reason to doubt it. But when I felt that “spark” of eagerness to move forward with the engagement and expected him to feel the same, the slow realization that my expectation was incorrect led me to increasingly question why I had that expectation and what that meant for the relationship that I was wrong.

“Why is he still not ready? I don’t see X or Y as a reason to wait, so why does he see it that way? Am I the one being unreasonable? Or is he just making excuses that come down to him not being comfortable with taking that next step? But I am comfortable. Is he not as committed as I had believed him to be for the past 10 years? Or did he change his mind? If I had done something differently, would he have not changed his mind? Did I do something to make him doubt his commitment or mine?”

Is the association of marriage = commitment a societal tradition, yes. Are there still patriarchal aspects to engagement and marriage, yes. The “spark” I felt to get engaged was due in part to the societal pressure of being in my late 20s and in a relationship for almost 10 years. But I, like most people, had made the decision to accept marriage as the biggest symbol of commitment and to trust my partner in doing so.

I do think we can control how we deal with waiting to an extent, but I don’t think those feelings can be entirely avoided if you are committed to a person and want marriage. I don’t think it’s as simple as telling yourself to not base your self esteem on a man. I think it would be unfair and unreasonable for me to look retrospectively at the situation and tell myself that I shouldn’t have been confused and hurt that I had thought my SO was ready and excited to get engaged to me at the same time as me when he wasn’t. That if I was just somehow a better, stronger person I wouldn’t have taken it personally that I was ready but he wasn’t.

Or that I should’ve been quicker to turn a 180 and walk away from the relationship rather than let his decisions influence me. I don’t think it’s as simple as telling myself that I wouldn’t be waiting if he was a good guy. 

What I do think I could’ve controlled was my efforts in communication. I did allow my insecurity to fester because I didn’t say what I needed to say to work productively towards dealing with my feelings of waiting. I was afraid of defensiveness or difficult answers. I held back in order to not seem pressuring or demanding, so I do see that as a stereotype I should’ve pushed back against. But in my SO’s defense, I also became increasingly unwilling to consider his reasoning because I saw his side as making excuses, which is another stereotype. He communicated poorly as well, but I acknowledge that my effort in being empathetic with him was lacking at times. 

Post # 32
94 posts
Worker bee

Following PPs’ lead and climbing up on my soapbox for a minute…..

It’s fabulous to have goals, to want certain things by a certain time, to fantasize about achieving them and take pleasure in inching your way toward them. Goals are a very recent luxury for women that men have enjoyed for centuries. The achievment of our goals, our ability to reach the “finish line” has come to symbolize our degree of freedom and therefore our worth, and in certain contexts that can be accurate, but I think this logic falls apart when it comes to goals that hinge upon flesh and blood people, like getting married and having a family. Husbands and children are not things to be achieved, they are not possessions that betray our worth or status as women. They are fine things to want and to fantasize about, but they do not belong to us, just as we do not belong to them. This fact has nothing to do with not loving them or expecting their respect and affection in return for ours. So why do we conform to the idea that marriage and children, like a house or a promotion at work or a degree, are inanimate things to be acquired through diligence, and that when we “fail” to secure them (whether this means spending some time with our partners *gasp* not being engaged or married, not having kids by X time, or even not having an Instagrammable wedding/ring/enagagement) we occupy a reduced position in society?? I do blame societal perception, the patriarchy, the media, capitalism, etc. for this mirage, but we really have to stop buying into it already. That’s not to say we can’t have nice weddings and rings and be proud of our husbands and children and take pleasure in reaching those places in our lives—but the penalty for not reaching those points cannot be the elimation of any positive perception we might have of ourselves! Continuing to view marriage as just another rung on the ladder rather than a fundamentally emotional link with another human being does not make us enlightened, 21st Century women, it makes us 18th Century men. Who wants more of those?

Post # 34
2449 posts
Buzzing bee

catqueen92 :  It used to affect my self-esteem and it seemed like there was nothing I could do about it. However, over time my perspective has changed–I feel more loved, adored, and wanted–and so I’m in a much better place with the relationship and with my self-esteem related to that.

After my boyfriend and I moved in together, I started noticing and appreciating all the different ways that he shows he is committed to me (some things that my married friend’s spouses don’t even do!). I have to say, he doesn’t like PDA so moving in together allowed him to show more affection. We also overcame some difficult situations in life. And I’m honestly just plain happy now. I’ve found myself at peace with the fact that, married or not, we’re going to stay together no matter what.

Interestingly, my boyfriend is significantly more keen on getting married these days. It’ll happen, but it probably won’t change too much relationship-wise from where we are now, which is a great place for me to be.

I do very occasionally still have some moments of insecurity related to the waiting aspect, but we talk about it and it’s just a momentary thing. I guess I’ve gotten better at focusing on the moments and being grateful for what I have. 

Post # 35
1110 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: City, State

I think the problem is if you’ve talked about engagement/ marriage seriously multiple times over an extended period (like years), the basic foundation of the relationship can be fundamentally (fatally) undermined.  

Until then, the waiting party may believe their partner would do anything for you, make big sacrifices for you, sees you as their permanent plan, etc… but once the pain you’re in is evident, once you’re facing down the last few likely years of fertility, once you realize you’ve been living together for years standing still… that illusion crystallizes unto a new reality:

Your partner isn’t sure about you. They are picking their unsureness over your happiness. They’re picking their comfort over your future goals. They are okay with maybe costing you your last few years of child bearing. They can see you in pain and not change course. If they let multiple deadlines go by, they are willing to lie to you over time about the most significant parts of your shared life; willing to lie to you intentionally about your own legal, financial, familial future.

This is not the relationship you thought you were in. Even if a ring comes eventually, you’ll still know you aren’t in a great relationship with a great person. There will always be an asterisk in the story, because of that speck of rot at the core.

Post # 36
177 posts
Blushing bee

Hey Bee,


I want to just say I’m feeling for you and I’ve been in your boat and I hope that everything works out for you. I too have anxiety, depression, paranoia, and have a therapist that I see regularly. 


I felt the same way you do now and now 3 years on the other side, I can say I love my husband, I know he loves me, and yet I still have those feelings pop up everyonce in a while. My selfesteem was shot (still is, but for different reasons) for years bc I thought I wasn’t good enough, not smart enough or I was too fat or just no good. He constantly told me I was enough, but then, why did it take so long to get engaged? We dated for 7 years before being engaged. I knew I wanted to marry him by year 2. I started feeling anxiety at yeah 4. He never had a good reason to not be engaged – I think he was just content while I suffered. 


What really sucks afterwards, and what causes a deep, dark part of me to hold resentment, is that due to all the waiting, I am now pratically infertile. It breaks my heart knowing that I (read: he/we) waited so long to try to have kids. Hind sight and everything. I had a goal of being married by 27, having babies by 30. It wasn’t the case. If only we got engaged sooner, if only we got married sooner, if only we got pregnant before all my surgeries… etc. etc. 

I agree with coffeecakez; I think he’s picking his comfort over your goals. You could always propose to him. I wish I had just taken my life in my hands and asked him and gotten it done with!

Post # 37
17 posts

I feel this so much. I’m the youngest of 5 (all unmarried except one) mother is 44 years older than me and super old fashioned and wants grandchildren. I’ve been with my boyfriend for 6 years so far and everyone makes me feel like I can’t get him to propose because I’m not enough. I feel so bad every day it’s like I can’t think of anything else because I’m constantly bombarded with questions and comments about my relationship. I just want to be happy. 🙁 I am pretty young but I feel like my life is going downhill. 

Post # 38
131 posts
Blushing bee

charlie057 :  Reading messages like this helps me a lot because at times I think that it’s just me acting crazy but so many other bees feel the same…

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