OP my advice is you need to move on. I know that is an utterly heartbreaking possibility (I have been exactly where you are). But I do not see much positivity in what you write about this guy.
You’ve been together 4.5 years, which is a long time. You aren’t kids. He should know what he wants by now. My view is that if a man really wants to marry a woman, he will make that happen, and he will make it clear from the moment he knowst, that that’s what he wants.
If he doesn’t want to marry a woman, however, he won’t do the opposite. He will not make it *clear* he doesn’t want to marry her. Why, because men much more commonly suffer from relationship inertia. They don’t want to rock the boat, particularly when they’ve got it so good (ie live in girlfriend who loves him and cares for him). So rather than saying “I just don’t think you’re the one for me”, they try to talk themselves in to saying that marriage and a life together is what they want, but they just can’t get themselves over the line.
I’ve had a lot of girlfriends in this situation, and I was too, and I do not know of a single man who has ever been the one to break off a long term relationship because *he* didn’t want marriage. The men will just drag their feet so badly that they leave the woman with no choice.
I am sorry that you boyfriend is giving you so much insecurity about all of this, but my advice (for what it’s worth) is take that as a very important sign.
You want a guy who’s heart is busting out of his shirt wanting to marry you. Who tells you he wants you to be his wife, who overwhelms you with how crazy he is about you and how much he wants it *all* with you.
To the PP who said, but what if you never meet anyone as good as your current bf – I completely disagree with that thinking. Do not be a prisoner to fear. That is a very sad mindset imo. You current bf is filling you with insecurity about your future, after 4.5 years no less, and you are being asked whether you really can do any better?
OP – if you want to do better, you can. But you need to take a long hard look at your current situation. Don’t let some other person how have this much control over your feelings of security about your own future. Write your own destiny.
I left a guy who was quite similair to what you’ve described of your bf. I loved him like crazy and I was utterly heartbroken when I came to the realisation he didn’t see me as his ‘the one’. It damn near destroyed me.
12 months later I met someone infinitely more compatible with me who, after only a few weeks, told me he cannot wait to marry me. I cannot even begin to describe how different these two men are, and what a terrible shame it would have been if I’d stayed with the first guy. My life would have taken such a different, unhappy course.
Best of Luck OP, whatever you decide.