Post # 1
My 31-year old boyfriend and I (I’m 30) have been together for 3.5 years, living together for 7 months, and I am totally baffled as to why he hasn’t yet proposed and am even starting to wonder whether I should start thinking about packing up and leaving. A few (ok, more than a few) things about us:
- We are extremely compatible and truly love each other and enjoy each other’s company. He is extremely intelligent, witty, silly, and fun—a rare mix of serious and light-hearted, someone with whom I am rarely bored. We share similar passions, tastes, and values generally. I view him as an extremely honorable and loyal person and have never once had jealousy issues come up in the relationship. I think I have complaints as much as the next woman (he’s messy, I’m clean; he’s a procrastinator, I’m a planner; he has trouble communicating deep feelings, I am the queen of deep feelings), but nothing that has been a major dealbreaker, except maybe for now.
- We met in law school and did long-distance for 10ish months while he finished up an additional degree (6 months) and studied for the bar exam to become a lawyer (4 months).
- I am his first serious, long-term relationship. He is my second serious, long-term relationship.
- After one year of being together, he broke up with me pretty out of the blue after he failed the bar exam and had to move back home to study for the test once more, because he could not afford rent in NYC.
- He made up some excuse about how he wasn’t ready to get married after 1 year of being in a relationship, and I had no idea where that was coming from. I had told him I loved him (which he did not reciprocate until about eight months later) prior to that, about 8 months into the relationship, but did not mean for it to be taken as anything more. We got back together within a few days after he regained composure and heard my side of the story.
- We moved in together last November, and it has been pretty blissful. I think a lot of the fights/problems we had previously had were because we weren’t living together and his roommate was not very kind or welcoming to me.
- Money is not an issue. We both have extremely high-paying jobs and, while I have a lot of debt from law school, I do not expect nor want him to contribute and am on a reasonable repayment plan that will allow me to pay off all of my debt within 3-4 years.
- I really like his family and feel as though the feeling is mutual.
- I had hoped that we would get engaged before moving in together (I moved in with my previous boyfriend when I was a bit younger, but felt like the lack of concrete plans for the future just ended up turning us into roommates who resented each other), which I voiced, but that date came and went. I don’t think I did the best job of initiating a discussion. It was more of like I hope this happens, and I don’t think he was ready to do it until we knew we lived well together. That’s fine, I totally understand that.
- I have a diamond engagement ring that has been in my family and in our safe since October, because I told him I would like him to use the diamond. The ring has been gone from our safe since mid-March of this year.
- I reinitiated the engagement talk some time in February, and he set a timeline date of early July. Seeing as how this is the man I want to spend the rest of my life with, I happily agreed.
- That date too came and went, with him citing his job as “getting in the way” of planning. There was about 1.5 months in the spring where he worked every weekend and came home past midnight because of work. It is hard for me to understand, because I am also a lawyer and have a much more reasonable schedule, but I do believe he works that hard.
- We have talked about the future, how many kids we want to have, where we’d like to live, what kinds of schools our kids would attend, religion (I am agnostic, I guess, and he was raised in a somewhat religious household but is no longer practicing; I am happy to convert to have a unified family and happy in-laws). I don’t know what other ground we need to cover to “get on the same page” in this regard, because I think you can only do so much planning for the future until life actually sets in.
- He’s recently said that he hates his job (I mean seriously, who doesn’t?) and would like to transition into another field, possibly by going to grad school once more (this would be three graduate degrees–talk about overschooled) but maybe just networking and getting an extra license that would not be so time- and money-consuming. I see some evidence of his doing research into it, but it remains a slow process. Either way, he seems truly miserable in what he is doing, and can’t seem to see the forest through the trees.
Reading this, I know he has always lagged behind me in milestones and maturity and easily lets work cloud his vision, but what gives? He says he loves me, that I’m his partner and soulmate, but, here I am, 3.5 years in, with some evidence that maybe he is thinking of proposing, because the diamond ring is gone, but it is being clouded by his misery at his job and my impatience regarding an engagement.
Although I believe in a traditional engagement (where the man asks the woman), I think stringing me along and making me wait until the 11th hour is absurd, and I am starting to get angry and emotional. I have emotionally supported this man through his first major job, stressful work schedules, and failing a major exam. I have been a source of stability and support, and, now, I would like our commitment to be embodied in something more than just being boyfriend and girlfriend and sharing an apartment. I feel like we are settled enough to begin planning for the future, despite his desire to transition careers so quickly. I have told him this many times, yet here I am.
The question is, am I completely insane to stay with him? What do I do? How much longer do I wait? The thoughts have become so intrusive for me that it is a major source of fear and stress in our relationship as well as my everyday life. I have recently begun to see a therapist, but feel that this isn’t enough. Have people had similar experiences? Any advice or maybe just a virtual smack in the face either way would certainly be welcome.
Post # 2
Sounds like he doesn’t even know what he’s doing with himself in life, let alone being ready to settle down. I think you are WAY ahead of him on the marriage track and at your ages I honestly would let him go. He already allowed one timeline to come and go and has shown you through his actions (or lack thereof) that it’s not his priority.
Post # 3
- Wedding: September 2015 - Hotel Ballroom
DH and I were together for three years, and living together for two of them when we got engaged. At the TWO year mark of our relationship we started talking about engagement. Sure, he SAID he wanted to get married, but we could just never get on the same page. Couples we knew who started dating after us were getting married, and I was starting to get a little concerned. Out of one side of his mouth he said he wanted to get married, but out of the other side if I EVER brought it up he’d get furious! At one point I got him to agree to a timeline. But then that day came and went. and he acted angry towards me because I was dissapointed.
I admit I lost faith. I actually was planning my exit by our three year aniversary of dating. I had been saving up money like crazy, apartment shopping, slowly detaching myself emotionally, even my closest friends knew I was leaving him. On our three year aniversary he proposed out of nowhere. I was in a position where it would be awkward for me to say no. I then spent the year and a half we were engaged wondering if he somehow knew I wanted to leave and only proposed to keep me. It tainted the whole engagement in my mind and there were a few times I considered calling it off.
Clearly I didn’t. We will be married for a year this coming September.
My point is while I AM happy now, a big part of me will always wonder if I am TRULY happy or just going through the motions. Looking back, there was no feasible way I could have said no when he proposed, but I should have been fair to both of us and at least postponed the engagement until I figured this out.
Why am I telling you all this? I want you to think very deeply about how you feel and what you want out of life. If you have even a little doubt, or are even considering losing faith and leaving…it may be best to do just that; even for only a little while. Nothing is harder than spoiling your engagement and possibly even marriage wondering.
Post # 4
It sounds to me like somewhere in his heart he DOES want to marry you, but waaaay farther down the line than where you are currently. So, he is being honest in his desire to spend his life with you, but your timelines are vastly different. You need to decide if you want to live on his timeline, or CAN live on his timeline, or if you need to go out and make your own way, and find someone who is more in the same stage of life as you.
I don’t know what the answer is. But I do know how hard it is when your partner is in a different place in life than you.
Post # 5
Thank you–I sincerely appreciate your advice and feel like our situations are/were similar. I think I came to this board looking for someone, anyone, to be like, “you go girl, keep up the faith!” I love him and don’t want to lose him, but I wonder if I am totally nuts for continuing to try to be hopeful.
3.5 years isn’t the end of the world and I know women my age who have waited longer, given that our careers took a while to take off, but it is not easy to wait, since I’m am far from a perfect human, and, since I have at least SOME evidence that he has taken steps to propose, i.e. taking the heirloom ring.
Post # 6
Thank you for your advice! I think the hardest part is that he doesn’t say much. I ask him his fears and if he has reservations about marriage or marrying me, and he says no! He doesn’t get angry or anything. I feel like I have created several spaces for him to admit any misgivings, and have nothing to go on.
I think if I had A timeline, basically an inkling of anything, I would feel somewhat more empowered in my decision (and desire) to forge ahead with this.
After the July date came and went, we calmly (probably one of my finer moments) talked about what was up (the job–there really can be months where he comes home and sleeps for 6 hours and goes back to work) and talked about what he thought about my expectations for a proposal. He said he thought I needed it to be extravagent and that he didn’t feel like he had time to plan it. I told him that I did not need anything so elaborate, something thoughtful is fine. He talks about “THE” wedding, as in ours, from time to time. But as I said, here I am, incredibly confused and hurt.
Post # 7
Thank you! These are thoughts I have in my angrier moments and ones that caused me to seek out a larger opinion. I appreciate you commenting!
Post # 8
Okay, there’s a LOT to unpack here, but I would say two things stood out to me.
1, the ring is gone from the safe. Do you definitely know he has it? If he does then he is more than likely considering a proposal at some point – unless he’s sold it to pay off gambling debts or something! I would consider this is positive step, except…
2 – he let a deadline come and go. If I were you I’d talk to him frankly about it, explain that’s not cool, and discuss setting another (close) deadline. I would usually say walk, apart from the ring being out of the safe, and the fact that (as a PP mentioned) he seems to be generally confused about life right now! If he misses deadline 2 or doesn’t want to set a new one, walk.
I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but you clearly want kids – if he’s not going to step up for you or messes you around, don’t waste any more of your time on him. Get out and find someone who can’t wait to be your husband and baby daddy, stat.
Post # 9
Sorry, I stopped reading after you said you had to wait EIGHT MONTHS for him to say I love you back!! I understand that maybe he wasn’t ready to say it yet when you did, but seriously, eight months is wayyyyy too long. I would’ve left him a long time ago. That, combined with the passed deadline, just doesn’t make this relationship seem worth it to me. You shouldn’t have to be pulling teeth; you should be having conversations about where you want to go in life, and you should want the same things at a mutually agreed upon and enforced time. If you aren’t on the same page about what you want and when you want it, you’re wasting your time.
Post # 10
I think that he does intend to marry you. He doesn’t get angry or put you off. Yes, he did not meet a deadline (yours?), but the ring is not in the safe either.
However, I think if I were him, I’d be more concerned with feeling settled in a good job first. Marriage and taking care of a family for a man are important. If he’s feeling like he’s in the wrong job, it must be hard to even think about taking the next step.
Since he is an attorney, is there another area of law that he can practice? Can you help him negotiate that scenario, and find a different type of position? Logically, he may think he needs to get more education, and that would likely put off plans longer, but that may not be what he needs to do, but with his level of stress, maybe that is all he can think of as a solution.
Perhaps you know what a better match for him would be, and would be able to discuss it with him and help with networking to make it happen. If that stress falls away, and he feels more in charge of his future, I bet you would be closer to getting the proposal you are waiting for.
Marriage is helping your partner through thick and thin, for better or for worse.
Post # 11
If I were in your exact situation I’d feel he is probably feeling overwhelmed and extremely stressed about his job, as he mentioned to you. I would think he might feel the engagement ring, proposal planning, wedding planning, etc., process is adding so much to his stress level, in just thinking about it, that he keeps shoving it to the back burner of his mind. After all you have a great relationship, live together and seem compatible from what you’ve said, so the relationship is mostly easy for him (as it should be, for both of you).
Back to my point – what I would do in your situation is this: Figure out if you really want to be married to HIM and what that will mean, or if you simply want to be married and have a wedding. If you simply want to marry him how about brainstorming some ideas to “let him off the hook” about the ring, the proposal, etc. A lot of men simply aren’t good at planning romantic surprises. My husband, for instance, proposed to me at the dining room table the same evening he’d picked up my ring at the jeweler. He was too excited and knew I would be happy and excited, too, and not have expectations about some romantic, idealized proposal. My husband is a wonderful man but struggles in the thinking-up-romantic-ideas department. And I’m fine with that.
Maybe let him know you just want to be married and the two of you can think outside the box regarding planning. There are no “rules” you have to follow and what allows him to feel you’re helping him to be less stressed about it might do the trick. For example, design the ring together instead of it being on all him. Let him know you’re ok with a mutual agreement to get married rather than some elaborate, formal proposal. But only if that’s true, of course. And you can manage the brunt of the wedding planning. I promised my then Fiance that I would handle most of the wedding stress and planning with no problem because I knew he wouldn’t enjoy it as much as I did.
These are just ideas because it sounds as though you have a great relationship here that’s being stressed to the max by his job. You can help him by talking it through and letting him know you’re on his side.
Post # 12
Thank you for your wonderful advice! We are taking steps to evaluate the next move, and I am supportive and have volunteered my research, writing, and planning skills. I have told him I am committed to helping him through this, so hopefully things will start to materialize!
Post # 13
Thank you for your advice! When we had the talk about the missed deadline, I assured him that I did not need him to do anything insanely elaborate or over-the-top, stressing that I wanted to be engaged and formally committed to him–not to anyone or just to have the ring/wedding. He is the one who actually wants the big wedding–I have told him I don’t really care about how elaborate, big, or fancy it is, as long as friends and family are present and there is good food and booze.
I also learned recently that my father put away a large sum of money for my wedding day, and his mother told me that his family would contribute, so at least there is no financial burden related to planning, and we could easily hire a planner (and will definitely need to given our job schedules).
Post # 14
Thank you! I asked him if he had the ring recently and if it had been altered (i.e. reset), and he said that it had. So, in my head, I know I should be excited and shouldn’t have these will-he won’t-he thoughts. The waiting is literally driving me insane.
I definitely do want children in the future but we have discussed trying around age 32 for me. I am not in a rush to have children, as I am also building my legal career and hoping to be a working mother.
Post # 15
Thank you! He is a pretty traditional guy and told me he believed “I love you” was for the woman he was going to marry (I said I love you at 8 months in, he said it around 1 year and two months or so). While it did take some time, I think the meaning and impact of the statement for him is what makes me know he is a honorable and loyal man to me.