Why am I going crazy waiting for a proposal?
August 18, 2010 2:25 PM   Subscribe

We know we want to get married. We have a general idea of when. But I'm going crazy waiting for the proposal. Help?

My boyfriend and I have been together for several years. We were very serious from the start, recognizing that something was different about our relationship. We're planning to get married before some major career / education decisions and a possible move occur next fall.

But he hasn't asked yet. I know this sounds ridiculous, because we've talked about it and agreed that we want to get married. But we come from a fairly traditional culture (obviously not too traditional as we're living in delicious, delicious sin at the moment) and it's important that he be the one to ask. Formally.

I don't need him to get down on one knee, and if a horse-drawn carriage is involved I may vomit. But I would like an actual, legit, formal proposal to occur. And he says it will, soon. But I am going absolutely nuts waiting. I feel tense and anxious, as if I'm on an extended audition. We've talked about it, and he says that's not the case and he just needs more time.

He's not saving up for a ring because we've agreed that it needs to be well within our means (and will therefore not involve a diamond). There's no biological clock ticking, I could care less about the wedding-as-my-big-day phenomenon. This is about the marriage that will result, not the wedding. I feel like I should say that twice: this is so not about a pretty white dress and cake.

There must be people who have been in this situation out there- you've agreed to get married, but are waiting for a traditional proposal. I'd love to hear both sides of the issue, particularly the male thought process between the "we're going to get married" discussions and the actual proposal. How long did you wait? What thoughts went through your head?

Pertinent details: hetero relationship, traditional religion, I am in my mid-twenties and he is in his early thirties, we've both had long-term relationships before but no living together or engagements, no kids.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (41 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
We had the date and the officiant booked before it occurred to us (okay, me) that he hadn't actually asked the question at any point. I poked him, he asked, I said yes then smacked him in the head with a cushion, all was well.
Talk to him. Ask him. It doesn't have to be a surprise and if you're planning to spend your lives together you've got to get used to talking about big things instead of waiting for them.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 2:33 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

He's not saving up for a ring because we've agreed that it needs to be well within our means (and will therefore not involve a diamond).

Any chance he is saving for a fancier ring to surprise you?
posted by rancidchickn at 2:33 PM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Read "I Do, But I Don't" by Kamy Wicoff. She talks a LOT about this problem.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:40 PM on August 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you're from a traditional culture--even from, say, more traditional corner of American culture--that demands that the man make a formal, surprise proposal, then all you can do is wait.

I'm not. I asked my husband myself. During the time that I was contemplating, and then gearing up for, proposing, I met a woman who sounds much like you, fairly traditional, who had been dating her SO for as long as I'd been dating mine (at that point, five years). They'd had many preliminary conversations about engagement. He knew how much it meant to her. They'd talked about the particulars. Years went by. Still, he didn't propose. He wasn't ready. It didn't feel right. She started issuing ultimatums. They went to couples counseling to discuss his commitment issues. Whenever someone we knew got engaged, she'd freak out and they had a big fight. When I proposed to my husband, she asked me how I could do that--and ever have faith that he loved me.

Two years and a wedding later, I'm happily married while her relationship has flamed out in a series of awful fights.

When it comes down to it, I don't think you can have it both ways: I don't think you can totally buy into the traditional set-up of an engagement but then totally dictate the terms of the timing and the form the proposal takes. I understand that this process is nauseating and terrible--of course it is; it robs you of all choice and power in this situation. The traditional set-up also treats the engagement of those around you like some kind of sick competition between brides, and I think it can genuinely cause a lot of heartache and problems. But that's the price you pay for a proposal that, supposedly, "spontaneously" proves someone else's love for you.

In other words, if you trust him, you need to just believe him that it will happen soon and sit tight. Sorry.

As for how it feels to be the one proposing (and I don't think it's different if you're a man or a woman) it's scary and exciting and terrifying. You second guess yourself even if there have been preliminary conversations. You sometimes consider making spontaneous proposals just to get it over with. You worry. You fret. You talk to all of your friends about it. You over plan. You bungle stuff. And it ends up being wonderful. I waited around a year before first making the decision and proposing, and it was exhilarating and scary and big. But in the end, wonderful.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:45 PM on August 18, 2010 [15 favorites]

Could it be he's trying to save up money for a ring to surprise you even though you agreed on a non-extravagant one? Just throwing a random idea out there.

Without knowing the mind of you boyfriend better, I can only tell you my own story. My then girlfriend and I had been going out for about a year and a half and we'd pretty much already decided we were going to get married. I think that was around August or so. As Christmas approached, we started talking about how/when to make it official, and we decided one December morning to go ring shopping together. It seemed the most practical way to make sure we got a ring we both liked.

Once we actually picked out and purchased the ring, she decided she really didn't want to wait to put it on, but still wanting to follow at least a bit of tradition, I only said that I would officially propose some time that calendar day. On our way home from the mall, we had dinner with my future sister-in-law and her husband who'd gone with us. I did a bit of misdirection and proceeded to make a show of hiding the jewelry bag under some coats so nobody would see it, while I had already palmed the ring box and put it in my pocket. I vaguely thought of doing one of those big public proposal things in the restaurant, but thankfully I thought better. On the way back to our car, I said I needed to tie my shoelaces (even though my shoes don't even have laces) and that's when I proposed. Apparently my earlier misdirection had worked and it was still a bit of a surprise. (Later on I asked for and got an engagement ring of my own since it seemed like the whole only women get an engagement ring thing is pretty sexist against women.)

Anyway... communication is definitely the key here. Talk to him about what you want. Who is it important to that he be the one to propose? Could you propose "informally" and then he could still be the one to formally propose?
posted by kmz at 2:48 PM on August 18, 2010

Yes, we had that situation and it was simply ridiculous. It got to the point where he'd tell anyone, his parents and great aunts, that we would be getting married next year. And I'd say "...er, shouldn't you ask me first?" and he'd say, "yes, I'll get to it, don't worry!"

Finally I told him quite gumpily that if he really wanted to get married in half a year he'd better ask me soon because that's how long it takes to prepare a wedding.

So eventually he did and got down on his knees and everything. But geez!

I think it was a mix of him thinking "this is a really big, hard step" and "well, she'll marry me anyway, so it's just a formality" that was making him bide his time.

Still, it wasn't nice. I wanted the choice, you know? I didn't want it to be just a formality.

Anyway, don't worry, you're not alone. And maybe impress on him how much the proposal itself means to you.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:50 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Talk to him. Otherwise you run the risk of letting this build up inside and when he does finally ask, it might not be what you were (unconsciously) expecting leading to an unwanted letdown on an occasion that should be joyous.

Or, alternatively, have you considered that maybe you could propose? Just a thought.

As for me: my wife and I already owned a house, and were getting married for health insurance, so the proposal went "Wanna get married?", "Yeah, I guess..."

But the tiny spark of romance in me couldn't let that be all of it, so when I got her a wedding ring of plain white gold, I put it in one of those $.25 vending bubbles and made a big show of "going to get her a ring from a vending machine"

I palmed it and replaced it with the real one, and instead of the plastic she was expecting, she got a better surprise.

It was nice and very low stress, and I can't recommend how nice that last part was enough.
posted by quin at 2:51 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could Ask him to Elope... save all the cost and expense and pain of the big overbearing party you can't really enjoy because you're too stressed and it's been overhyped.
posted by MikeWarot at 3:00 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, my boyfriend and I had the "we're going to get married" conversation about a month after we started dating. Said conversation was prompted by a genuinely awed and surprised exclamation of "I wanna marry you someday!" uttered by my then-very-very-new boyfriend and a very sudden realization on my part that the feeling was entirely and utterly mutual.

We now live together, and we talk about our shared future - marriage, children, work, building a house together - almost constantly. He's a planner. I'm a doer. It's charming. Part of me thinks it's too soon to be engaged anyway, and part of me tells me everything about us together is entirely extraordinary, so why not this too?

But. And here's the big but. He hasn't proposed proposed, to borrow some lingo from middle school. We're not engaged, we're not planning a wedding, we just know we're going to get married at some point in the relatively near future. And I know he wants to propose propose, because he's traditional like that. And I know that he's, very sensibly, biding his time.

And I'm absolutely fine with it. I am. I think it's smart. I think it's sensible. I think it's the right thing to do. But, I am also very very much looking forward to it. Being his "girlfriend" at this point feels reductive and not, for the lack of a better word, an accurate description of what we are to each other. All his friends, now our friends, are engaged. As a matter of fact, as I was typing this his best friend called me and asked if he could come pick up the fancy clothes he'd bought his girlfriend secretly so he could give them to her when he proposes next month. His brother got engaged last month. Another of his friends is proposing in Paris in the fall. And I don't want him to propose because all of his friends are doing it, that's the kind of sentiment that leads college students to be led astray at keg parties. I'm just excited for it to happen.

So, my guess is that it's the anticipation that's getting you. You want to marry this man. This man wants to marry you. This man also wants to have the marriage preceded by him proposing, and you are okay with this. Awesome. Now, the one thing you can do during this whole process is, well, enjoy it. Focus on the warm fuzzy feeling of anticipation. Focus on the fact that he's thinking about it, about you, about how to either surprise you, or wow you, and overall, how to make you the happy. That takes time. He might be planning it as you type this. He might be planning it for tonight. You don't know, because this is a proposal proposal, and he's thinking about how best to ask you to share your life with his.

And I write this as someone who is the opposite of traditional. I would have proposed, easy, were my boyfriend not very much attached to the sentiment of the proposal. He wants to do it, fervently, and since I was never opposed to a traditional proposal I certainly see no harm in him doing something he cares about a great deal. I drew the line at anything resembling asking for permission to marry me to anyone (my parents are deceased, I'm not sure if he'd have though it a problem) because I'm my own person, thank you very much. But the ring and the surprise and the "will you"? Bring it on.
posted by lydhre at 3:10 PM on August 18, 2010 [7 favorites]

I think it was a mix of him thinking "this is a really big, hard step" and "well, she'll marry me anyway, so it's just a formality" that was making him bide his time.

Yes. For me, this exactly. Plus finding exactly the right ring, despite our both having decided that a diamond was a poor choice.
posted by supercres at 3:13 PM on August 18, 2010

This sounds almost exactly what my best friend went through (spoiler - who is now happily married to this guy with an adorable baby). She was independent and modern and feminist. They had discussed getting married and agreed it would happen. They had even agreed on the timetable for the wedding (he hadn't realized it would take so long to plan a wedding).

And then she waited.

And waited.

And would call me every few months to complain/tear up. It ended up kind of ruining a couple events that they went to (going to see their favourite band, her birthday, family visits) because she thought this would be the perfect moment to ask. But it didn't happen.

I asked her why she didn't propose to him and she said much of what you have - it was important to her that he ask.

It took him a year and a half. I don't know why he waited this long. I know that he'd had the ring for a while. It was a complete surprise when it happened. Partially because I think she'd kind of given up even though she knew they were going to get married.

So, I don't have any advice but just wanted to let you know you're certainly not alone.
posted by hydrobatidae at 3:14 PM on August 18, 2010

Propose to him.
posted by Carol Anne at 3:23 PM on August 18, 2010 [6 favorites]

My situation may not be relevant to yours at all, but here it is anyway:

From the very start, my now-husband and I knew we would be together on a permanent basis. He had moved into my house, let his apartment go, and we had discussed getting married. That he would propose was a foregone conclusion but, being the type of guy he was, he was looking for the perfect setting and occasion to do so.

Then one evening we were out for a drive, enjoying the spring air, and stopped into a really divey bar in the middle of nowhere. There was a slight lull in the conversation and, being the type of gal I am, I said "Go on and do it. You know you want to, and this will make a far better story than the fancy restaurant you had envisioned." He proposed, and I waited 15 seconds for dramatic effect before accepting.

My point is this: there is a middle ground between him doing the formal proposal and you proposing. It's quite possible that he's busily trying to craft the perfect proposal -- whose husband-to-be didn't wait until the very last minute to write his wedding vows? -- and you can save the day by tweaking him into doing it at some unexpected moment.
posted by DrGail at 3:32 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

For us, the timing of the wedding mattered more to me than to my husband. Several things happened around the same time that made me emphasize timing to my husband and prompt him into proposing soon. (My sister accepted a position abroad that would not allow her to travel back home for the wedding if we waited until after she left. My mom is very traditional and I was sick of her lectures and dirty looks, and getting married would legitimize things in her eyes--I know it's not good to get married because of something external like that, but like you, we had already agreed to get married and spend our lives together, so there really wasn't any strong reason to wait, and the mom thing was one reason to do it sooner.) After thinking about it a bit on my own, I talked to my husband and we concluded that timing was not important to him, but it was for me. He hadn't made concrete plans because he didn't have any impetus. My preference for doing it asap was all the reason he needed. We got married a little sooner than he would have planned based on arbitrary ideas of ideal age etc, but we both agree that the timing worked out for the best.
posted by Terriniski at 3:35 PM on August 18, 2010

There can be a lot of pressure on the guy to make the proposal special. As much as you can say that it doesn't need to be extravagant and the only thing that matters is that you're engaged/married, there's still that desire to do something individual; something you can tell people about and they'll all go, "Ahhh, wasn't that romantic?" The fact that it's inevitable makes it even harder, because it's going to be very difficult for him to surprise you.

I just needed my other half to be patient. I found it particularly annoying if she ever mentioned it, because it felt like a little bit more of the element of surprise was lost each time. We ended up with a rule that every time she mentioned engagements or weddings meant any planned proposal would be put back by another week.

Eventually, we (half-)jokingly settled on a compromise that if I hadn't proposed by February 29th, she would ask me. The self-imposed deadline was enough to spur me on from planning-to-propose to actually proposing. Unfortunately, 2012 is quite a way off, so the threat of a leap year wouldn't work as quickly for you...
posted by matsho at 3:37 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

we are not traditional and there wasn't even a ring - but i felt exactly like this. we'd talked about it, we agreed it would happen, but arg! the waiting! i tied myself in knots for a few weeks and finally i just asked him and then we were formally engaged. i think the exact same thing would have happened if he had asked - tension immediately gone.

i still don't know why standing on the edge of that decision made me so crazy in my brains. if you're dedicated to him asking, then just try to let it go. as soon as he asks you'll probably feel a whole lot better and twisting yourself up between now and then will only stress your relationship.
posted by nadawi at 3:38 PM on August 18, 2010

I was in a similar position to your boyfriend. I had to steel my nerves and consult trusted people (mentors, parents) before I was ready to take the plunge. I also did the traditional thing and asked her father's permission first. She knew it was coming but left the exact timing up to me as I got all my ducks in a row and made sure it was really a step I was willing to take. It took me some time to get there.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 3:46 PM on August 18, 2010

For a second I thought this may have been written by my partner, but you're not a man so I figure it's not him.

Anyhow, we're in a similar position where it's sort of eventual but not concrete. I think it's fine that way, but I know if either wanted to make it official, we would have to talk about it. Maybe let your partner know you're ready for it so that he can start making arrangements to propose?
posted by kendrak at 4:00 PM on August 18, 2010

This was me. My situation was that we had agreed it was going to happen, our families were on board. We planned that several big things would happen at some point after the proposal (moving in, new job, etc.). Lots of stuff in my life was on hold waiting for the proposal.

And waiting.

And waiting.

I grew so frustrated that we actually almost broke up over it.

Finally, after he proposed, I learned that the delay was because he was having the perfect ring made, and he couldn't do anything unless it was perfect. (Self-imposed delay? dragging his feet? Slow jeweler? who knows. He swears it was all about the ring.)

When I later asked why he allowed us to almost break up over waiting on the jeweler, he said he didn't want to ruin the surprise.

I suspect you're going crazy not because you can't wait to be a Bridezilla... but because you can see The Next Phase of Your Life, and it's right in front of you. It's a locked glass door; you can see what's on the other side, and you're ready to walk through it. You're ready for what's next.

Only someone else is holding the key, and you don't know when he'll unlock it or how, and all you can do is look through the glass and wait.

(That was me, anyway. I was ready to Get On With It, and someone else's actions were maddeningly holding me back.)
posted by pineapple at 4:06 PM on August 18, 2010 [5 favorites]

I have a friend who it took him about a year between the time that thought about asking and actually asking.

He loved her, but he just found that every moment was a moment to do something else with her, or with other people, or work, etc., other than ask. There really wasn't a pressure for him to ask, since his girlfriend was busy trying not to pressure him, so he never seemed to realize that she was on pins and needles.
posted by anitanita at 4:10 PM on August 18, 2010

I was in a similar position with my boyfriend, er, my fiance. We have talked about getting married for at least 2 years out of our 4.5-year relationship. I finally told him I wanted to be officially engaged and I wanted a ring. I picked one out (Heart of Water on Etsy, if I can give a plug. Her work beautiful and very reasonably priced.), and he ordered it. Then he gave it to me but didn't really propose. I finally had to tell him that I wanted him to actually propose to me, and he asked me to marry him moments later while we were driving to the grocery store. It was...terrifically anti-climactic and I still don't quite feel officially engaged. Anyway. That's my story.

Like others have suggested, I think it's a good idea for you to tell him that you do want to be proposed to. Maybe he thinks it's not necessary since you've already talked about it?
posted by apricot at 5:43 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

My husband still hasn't proposed properly. He used to claim that someday he will, but I'm not exactly holding my breath here.

Our story is that we'd talked about living together for at least a year before deciding on marriage, so when I woke him up with "Happy apartmentiversary!" on April Fool's that year, he rolled over in bed and blearily asked me to marry him. I was all - yes, but grarh, next time you gotta propose RIGHT. Get to it, boy. As if.

I was tremendously irritated for a few months afterwards while I waited for him to RE-propose with extra romanticism and formality, we had a few fights over it, and then we moved on with our lives. Still happily married, and I'd still rather have the healthy marriage than the just-right proposal.
posted by Eshkol at 7:17 PM on August 18, 2010

About twelve years ago I asked a guy I barely knew on a date. It was the morning after our first date that I told my him we would be getting married. We continued dating for about a year when the marriage talk became more serious and I told him that he had to propose to me (I'm a radical feminist and I don't consider asking for what I want to necessarily be buying into the patriarchy). I only waited a few months I think, but I remember that knowing-not knowing sense of anticipation and hating it but secure knowing he would have to ask or he would lose me. If it had continued on too long I would have told a mutual friend that the proposal needed to happen NOW and have that friend pass the message along. Fortunately I didn't need to, and I remember so vividly being woken up in the middle of the night for the proposal where he poured out his love to me.

After the wedding we hit about eight of the major stressors in a marriage in pretty short order - unintentional pregnancy, death of our child, moving, underemployment, being fired, chronic illness, severe mental health issues, financial insecurity, foreclosure etc. We just had our ten year anniversary last week.
posted by saucysault at 7:40 PM on August 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

We knew we were getting married about a year in, but my husband's a metal artist, and he was going to make the ring. So we went to some jewelry stores, tried on rings, and decided what I wanted. We bought some metal, and an emerald, and he did some wax carving. Months passed. Everyone knew we were getting married but not yet engaged. I would occasionally remind the love of my life that I wanted my ring.

Finally, I planned our engagement party. I told him he had two months. I was left in suspense for the last couple weeks -- I was pretty sure the ring was done, but we were both super busy and didn't have a whole lot of time together. Weeks passed.

The week before the party, we were not yet engaged. And we had plans every night. So we agreed that we would have an engagement brunch the day of the party. Then, the night before the party, both our plans fell through, we met up, got some cocktails in a quiet corner of a restaurant, and he did the deal. We both cried a little bit.

For me, I was okay with the nebulousness because I knew what the holdup was -- I could see the non-progress of the ring. I think there are two ways to go here. Either trust that he wants to make it special, or have a conversation about what you need to feel secure here.
posted by freshwater at 9:46 PM on August 18, 2010

So, due to a misunderstanding, I was absolutely CONVINCED that my boyfriend was going to propose on our fourth anniversary. (He had gotten very defensive when my mom tried to make a family event that weekend.) And then he didn't ask. And then it was Christmas. And then it was New Year's. And then it was Valentine's Day. And by then six other girls I knew in my med school class had gotten engaged to men they'd been dating half as long as we'd been seeing each other. I was becoming obsessively upset about it, to the point of crying in the shower. It was horrendous- I was making myself unhappy, and him unhappy (I thought I had been hiding it well, but apparently not).

I loved him, he loved me, we had the same values and goals in life, and knew how to solve conflicts well. We both wanted to get married, and knew approximately when since we were in the same point in schooling. To me, it felt like it should be the simplest thing in the world to just say those 4 little words, "Will you marry me?". If we had not been such a traditional couple, I would have said it to him without a moment's hesitation, so why wasn't he proposing already?! It felt like every girl who was sharing her big news really meant "my fiance loves me enough to say, not just to me, but to the world, that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me", and that my boyfriend wasn't sure enough to say that about me. It felt like a rejection, it felt like I put my trust and love in someone who just didn't feel the same way, which, of course, was false- I couldn't ask for a more loving partner in life, that's why I wanted to marry him!

Like you, I didn't care so much about the ring or the wedding at that point. (Not pretending I'm not loving being a girly-girl about it now!) I just really wanted the validation. So we talked about it. I'm still not sure if he understood my point completely, but he did make some good ones of his own. By focusing so much on the proposal, I was becoming less and less of the mature, independent, personal-goal-seeking person he admired. While he loved to make me happy, he didn't want to be the ONLY reason I was happy- it's too much responsibility, it's not fair, and it's not a good quality in an equal partner, someone who should also work to make YOU happy. To look back on it, I can completely understand that nobody likes a borderline-esque zombie who alternates between googly-eyes and self-pity tantrums, which is kind of what I was devolving into. He also wanted to have a short engagement- to him, an engagement meant we were ready to start planning a wedding, while I wanted a few months to just enjoy the feeling before I had to worry about details. He wanted to be more sure about his career potential- even though we were set to graduate at the same time, he was much less far into his graduate program, which was shorter than mine. He also did want more time to save for a ring, because he felt strongly about giving me something I would be proud to wear my whole life. And, he wanted the moment to be spontaneous and light-hearted, which it couldn't be while I was watching every moment for potential and making thinly veiled hints.

So I tried to put my emotions on the shelf and give the issue a rest. It wasn't easy. There was still some crying from time to time, though I moved it to the car instead of the apartment where I could potentially be overheard. I started studying harder and keeping the apartment a tiny bit cleaner and tried to be more self-sufficient and somebody he could depend on to have their act together and be an active, contributing member of a couple. And, about 3 months later, just when I was starting to get antsy about it again, he popped the question!

I am in no way implying that you are being a whiny brat like I was. I just wanted to say, I totally empathize that it is a hard place to be in, and that there can be very strong emotional reasons you have for feeling the way you do. It's okay to be perplexed, and it's okay to feel hurt. It's probably not reasonable to act like I did, but I do feel that there are emotions behind the expectation of a proposal which are valid and understandable in origin. However, there are very good reasons why he may not be proposing just yet. So, ask him about it. And even if he can't explain himself as eloquently as my fiance did, try to be patient. Sometimes, you just have to put your trust in this person (who you were planning on trusting with your future kids/puppies/first edition of your favorite book anyway), and just suck it up and WAIT.

Good luck to you and your boyfriend- I hope you two have a long and wonderful marriage someday!
posted by alygator at 10:10 PM on August 18, 2010 [5 favorites]

Well...if it makes you feel any better, you're definitely not alone. In fact, your situation sounds so eerily similar to mine, it was necessary for me to sit down and repeatedly reassure my wonderful live-in boyfriend (and avid lurker) that I did not in fact write the question. No, really, honey. I didn't.

In our case, it's been very much about patience. We've been together for over 5 years now, and we both decided at least a year ago that we were in it for the long haul. We're not particularly traditional; I even have an AskMe wondering about girl to boy proposal gifts, and as we were discussing the various options, I asked him point blank if he cared if I proposed to him or if he preferred to do the asking. He asked me if I would wait for him to do it, so I'm waiting, admittedly, with a tiny bit of anxiety. But just a tiny bit.

I strongly suspect that my boyfriend has been dragging his feet largely because he doesn't do the big romantic thing very often, and he's been saving up, not in a monetary sense, but in an emotional sense. It's important to him too, and he wants it to be special. So in the meantime, I wait and continue being gloriously happy about living in sin with him. All things considered, it's really not that bad, because I'm super-confident he'll get around to it eventually and that he knows how I feel (heck, he's even reading what I'm typing over my shoulder, so he'd better know!).

If you're feeling really anxious about all this, then definitely talk to your boyfriend about your concerns. I understand him wanting it to be a surprise, but certainly not at the expense of your mental health. If he loves you, then I'm sure he doesn't want the idea of a proposal making you crazy.
posted by Diagonalize at 10:25 PM on August 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Propose to hin
posted by xammerboy at 11:58 PM on August 18, 2010

Why does it NEED to be him who proposes? I realise you come from a traditional place (presumably you want him to ask permission and whatnot too) which is different to how I would be looking at things were I planning the same, but if this is driving you insane, break tradition a little bit and let him surprise you with a ring later. As you say, it;s about the marriage and not the wedding, so you need to remember that and do what will make you happy rather than the accepted way of things. You don't need to do things one way because everybody else does, and breaking one tradition doesn't mean you have to get married in a pink thong carried in by twelve hot cops.

(Also: holy shit, Saucysault! Well done for getting through that.)
posted by mippy at 4:13 AM on August 19, 2010

If you're going to get married for sure, then you're engaged already and it's irrelevant. I think the problem is that you don't actually know if you're going to get married, and that's what's causing the anxiety. You've put the decision entirely in his hands.
posted by yarly at 5:28 AM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

He never proposed, but did get me a nice ring a month before the wedding, in a proposing-like manner (very solemn, no kneeling). in hindsight, knowing him, I should have known he wasn't the proposing type. Anyway, we're happily married now, and he's romantic in his own off-hand way.

If you make it a big deal and he proposes, you will feel like he's just doing it to appease you. If he doesn't, you will feel more furious, even. So simply mention that you'd love to have a proper or traditional proposal, and let it sink in. Then you'll have done all you can, and you should let him do as he thinks best.

On the unlikely event that he doesn't propose, you can:

-simply learn to appreciate him the way he is,
-propose that you get your rings together and follow with a romantic dinner/short trip/?
-propose to him!
posted by Tarumba at 7:28 AM on August 19, 2010

I forgot to tell you the important bit: I wasn't as cool as a cucumber, like you see me now. I did fret, suffered and felt sort of mistreated for a while. I WAS waiting for a proposal, even while we planned the menu for our guests! I mean it was dead certain, and I still was dying to hear it. I did feel great relief when I saw he got me a ring, because it felt like it was "real" (it may sound silly, I didn't even know I cared so much for having a ring until I did), now I think he may have been saving for the ring, and that's why it took so long.

TLDR My attitude completely changed after I got a ring, even with no proposal. I felt officially engaged, even if he never EVER got to pop the question, or even hint it.
posted by Tarumba at 7:35 AM on August 19, 2010

Tell yourself - and maybe him - that if he doesn't propose within a certain amount of time (six months? a year?), you'll propose to him. That way you'll be giving him plenty of time to do it traditional style, but it may ease your mind a little bit to have the if and when answered in your head.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:53 AM on August 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Let him know that you'd like to be engaged sometime before date X and then shut up about it or you'll ruin the surprise.
posted by callmejay at 8:46 AM on August 19, 2010

My vote would be to say "Hey, if you don't buck up and propose by X, I am going to buy a ring and ask you myself."
posted by sid at 8:51 AM on August 19, 2010

You mention you've talked about marriage and agreed that you both want it, eventually. But perhaps while he finds the abstract idea of marriage appealing, he is intimidated by the finality of officially Getting Engaged. If he isn't totally mentally prepared for the idea of making a lifetime commitment to you, then he should have more time to think about it. Twisting his arm or pressuring him (though I am not implying you are doing either) would make a commitment less meaningful, since he would be making it under duress.

If you are from a traditional religion, then I can imagine you are probably under some pressure from all sides to make an honest man out of him. But if he is having doubts about making a commitment-- at least doing so in the next couple of months-- or is just trying to work through his thoughts about the matter, then it might be better to live in sin for a little while longer while he figures this out.

At the same time, if he is having doubts, it's unfair for him to withhold them, since he's creating expectations that he may not be comfortable meeting. It might help to have a talk in which you give him permission to be completely honest without consequences, so you can both be clear on the situation.
posted by DeusExMegana at 11:09 AM on August 19, 2010

When I proposed to my wife, i'm pretty sure she was annoyed that it hadn't happened sooner. I think at the time I was saving for the ring. Or waiting for a good occasion to propose. So there is that. It's quite possible his timetable for this doesn't match up with yours.

That said, if you are super in love and all that shit, you should just propose. Life is too short to futz around with traditions that clearly aren't making you happy.
posted by chunking express at 11:38 AM on August 19, 2010

But perhaps while he finds the abstract idea of marriage appealing, he is intimidated by the finality of officially Getting Engaged

This is quite likely to me. I waited, er, 10 years after I started dating my ex-wife to propose to her. For a good chunk of that I think we both thought it would happen, and I know she wanted me to propose, and I wasn't against the idea of getting married.... but actually proposing is another thing. It's tempting for me now (post-divorce) to say that subconsciously I knew it wasn't the right move, but I don't think that's true. Of course, we met when I was 18 so the age thing is a little different (to me, getting married in my early 20's was not an option).

Of course, if this is the case and you propose (as some suggest) I'm not sure how that plays out. Would depend, I suppose, on how worried/hung up he is on the idea. It's easy for a guy to talk about getting married someday, but many guys are happier thinking of that as a future thing than as a reality. Some of those guys will end up being very happily married, some won't (and some will do one, then the other, like me).
posted by wildcrdj at 12:31 PM on August 19, 2010

"He says it will, soon."

Isn't that all you need to know?

He probably has a plan. Trust him.

He probably wants to catch you by surprise. It will happen when you least expect it.

I kept the ring hidden for a few months waiting for the right occasion. In the meantime I made all sorts of excuses because I didn't want to blow the big surprise.

I have a friend who planned to propose to his girlfriend one night, but during the date she started asking him why he hadn't proposed yet. He didn't want the proposal to seem forced or insincere so he waited for another night until he could do it of his own volition.
posted by Alabaster at 4:18 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

When in doubt, talk to him.

If you can't talk about getting engaged and get the answer you need, how well will you discuss the really hard stuff once you are actually married?

You're not under the assumption marriage makes it all easier, are you?


P.S. I'm sorry, but I don't buy this sort of point: "I have a friend who planned to propose to his girlfriend one night, but during the date she started asking him why he hadn't proposed yet. He didn't want the proposal to seem forced or insincere so he waited for another night until he could do it of his own volition." If the guy planned to propose that night, he already had the ring, right? What would be more amazing than to stop a woman who was asking why you hadn't proposed yet than to drop on one knee and ask, right there and then, knowing you had the ring. Hell, I'd finish the proposal (assuming she said yes) by saying "WONDERFUL! I'm going to start saving up to buy you a ring. I PROMISE! In fact, hang on one sec... I need to get something." And then I'd fetch the ring and blow her mind. And we'd live happily ever after.
posted by 2oh1 at 10:45 PM on August 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Honestly? Here's what I would do:

Hint at something coming up within the next 3-6 months you'd like to do with him that would be very meaningful to you.

NOT a holiday or birthday or anniversary, unless that's really what you want, because that's not going to be enough of a hint. Example: If your first date was the State Fair and you took a photo in the photobooth together, and it's coming up on the calendar in October, tell him you can't wait to see how your photos have changed since then and get really moony and sexy with him planning your day at the fair together (alone, take a weekday off, wear something adorable, etc.)

If your favorite book has just been made into an operetta and is premiering in your town, or your favorite soon-to-be-dead-or-retired author is doing a local signing, or SOMEthing amazing is going to happen... something he cares about, too, that's kind of important -- then maybe your dropping a hint won't feel like pressure and his proposal will feel all the more magical because you helped him do it.

I'm not saying to be blatant; mention it, get excited, then STOP. Don't nag, don't cry at other people's weddings in frustration, don't be passive-aggressive. Let yourself relax until Thing comes and goes, THEN you're allowed to bring it up again.

You know, uh, if you think that might work. (Please report back if it does!)
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:25 PM on August 23, 2010

I don't have any advice here; I'm still on the same side of that glass door as you are. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why I want this traditional event (formal proposal) when I've never before been the type to pursue tradition in these matters. Maybe because it's him, maybe because I feel so different about this future? We knew in less than two months that there was something here unlike what we've experienced before.

We talk often of that future we see on the other side and it's starting to drive me a little nutty. The more I hear of it, the more I wonder, "What's the hold-up, then?" I keep planning to have a private chat with him about my current thoughts on the topic (last plan was early July), but he's only in town on the week-ends due to work and that time is shared with me, a 4 yr old, and his family - there's always someone or something that is the distraction. We're exhausted by Sunday, trying to cram a week into a couple of days. The discussion gets pushed back and pushed back.

I even planned to have that chat with him while I visited this week in the city he works, as I don't have to share him with anyone once he's off work for the day. Instead, I've just been wallowing in my delight at spending time with him, unwilling to bring up a potentially stressful topic. I came into AskMefi today to query the hivemind myself on the matter.
posted by _paegan_ at 11:24 AM on August 27, 2010

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