Bf of 7.5 years says he will propose this year
February 7, 2019 1:18 PM   Subscribe

I was excited to hear he was interested in proposing this year. I shared my excitement on a wedding/engagement/relationship forum and everyone felt like this was a stalling tactic they've seen with many men and that 'this year' is too vague. Is this true? Is this often a stalling tactic? It saddened me to hear feedback that I needed a more definite timeline and that they said he seemed not interested. I know they're just strangers but if they see this is common, maybe it is true. Maybe I need to ask him for a more determined timeline like "spring" or "before x month" Thoughts?

Long story short, I felt like maybe a proposal was coming up since he said I wouldn't have to wait any longer. This was 2 years ago prior to moving in. With him finally making more money like he wanted, all the family weddings out the way, I thought he would finally do it New Year's Eve but nothing. I did see once again, another one of our friends engaged on Christmas and it just made me start to resent him. It was hurting me inside so I finally asked him what his intentions were with marriage and if he was interested.

He said he was and I asked him when he sees himself proposing. He said this year and asked how I felt about that. He then said he was waiting for a special date in mind and wanted it to be a surprise for me, but that I asked he was afraid it wouldn't be. I told him I have no idea when the "special date" could be since there's Valentine's Day, my birthday next week (I'm turning 30...), my graduation date in May, our anniversary in August. We also set a timeline for trying to have kids in the next couple years. We talked more about wedding styles and rings.
posted by Asian_Hunnie to Society & Culture (69 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Also here is the background:

He was hinting at it a couple months ago.
posted by Asian_Hunnie at 1:21 PM on February 7

Is there a reason why you can't propose to him?
posted by raztaj at 1:22 PM on February 7 [53 favorites]

This does not feel right to me.

Does he trend toward needing things to be dramatic or elaborate? If he doesn't, this is a red herring. People can always find a reason to put something off. It's already been over 2 years that he's known he was going to propose and he told you that? Oh I see another question....

We have been living together 2 years. Prior to moving, I told him my intentions of wanting to be married and he said I wouldn’t have to wait long.

This isn't my definition of a short wait. You don't have to be passive in this scenario, it's your future life. Have a real concrete discussion and make a decision. He can do an elaborate proposal later even if you're engaged!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:25 PM on February 7 [8 favorites]

It sounds like you put pressure on him about marriage by asking about it and so he said ‘this year’ to placate you. Sorry. I think the people in the Internet forum are right - he’s not ready or not that interested.
posted by EatMyHat at 1:26 PM on February 7 [8 favorites]


If you already have a timeline for having kids, then the answer is: "Hey, it is important to me that we are married before trying for kids. That means we need to get married in the next [year], and weddings take time to plan. What wedding date should we aim for?"

If he's like "oh how about next June", then start planning your wedding! If not, then the message board folks are probably right.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 1:27 PM on February 7 [22 favorites]

Maybe it's an age thing, but I don't understand the question at all. Doesn't all the discussion about "proposing this year" weirdly translate that you two are going to get married? Are additional words needed from him? What would they be?

I understand that you haven't set a date for a wedding procedure, but his weird language means you're getting married, right? From the question, it seems you two have decided to get married, but there's part of it that he's still denying (but what part?) and part of it that you're still not accepting (but what part?).

Just tell him OK, you're arranging the wedding for May, or September, or whenever, and start taking steps.
posted by JimN2TAW at 1:29 PM on February 7 [9 favorites]

Maybe it's an age thing, but I don't understand the question at all. Doesn't all the discussion about "proposing this year" weirdly translate that you two are going to get married? Are additional words needed from him? What would they be?

I have done my best to beat the callow youth out of me, but the scenario described by OP is exactly what I did once when I didn't really want to get married a decade ago. I did propose eventually but then ended it.

A person needs to be excited about a thing and this feet dragging indicates the opposite.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:32 PM on February 7 [24 favorites]

Propose to him, and you'll get your answer right away. Watch his face, and listen to his words.

My wager is he isn't ready or not interested and is stringing you along. Sorry to be pessimistic.
posted by terrapin at 1:34 PM on February 7 [22 favorites]

Just having a look at your previous Asks, it seems like you’ve been unsure of this relationship for the vast majority of it. Why do you want to marry him? Being this uncertain for this long isn’t a great way to live your life. I’m wondering why you’ve held on for so long? It’s really easy to say “he’s just not that into you”...but it doesn’t sound like either of you are 100% into each other. You might think “I’ve invested 7+ years” but you could invest the next 7+ years in a relationship where you’re completely sure about your feelings for each other, or alone and not juggling this constant uncertainty. I do think it sounds like a stalling technique, but I don’t know him and I have no clue what’s going on in his head. I’d be more concerned that after all this time you’re no wiser than me.
posted by billiebee at 1:36 PM on February 7 [20 favorites]

Think of it this way. Traditionally he has only one job in this whole thing and that’s to kick it off and be the one to affirm that you will be getting married. You’re both in agreement that you want this to happen. The only reason you haven’t is either because because he’s preoccupied with things that don’t matter (it being a surprise on a special date) or he’s dragging his feet because he doesn’t want to. You should find out which one it is, but neither one really makes a good case for a good life partner.
posted by bleep at 1:39 PM on February 7

That was like 6 years ago. Nothing at all how it is now.. Of course you're all going to have a bad perception because I only ask questions when it's relatively negative towards anything in life. Why would I post questions if it's good? If you noticed, I haven't asked a ton of questions for a long period of time which meant I have no concerns.
posted by Asian_Hunnie at 1:40 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]

If you want to be married to him, you should talk to him about it, not ask people on the internet what he's going to do. We don't know.
posted by something something at 1:41 PM on February 7 [40 favorites]

This sounds like an example of the sunk cost fallacy.
posted by InkaLomax at 1:43 PM on February 7 [15 favorites]

He then said he was waiting for a special date in mind and wanted it to be a surprise for me

Sounds like you guys have traditional gender roles in your relationship. If that's true, don't feel the need to propose because a bunch of internet strangers are telling you to!! Plus he has a date in mind. Sounds like he has a plan to proposed, and wants it to be the "fairytale surprise" that guys think that have to live up to these days. He isn't saying "generally" some time this year, he's saying he's got a proposal date chosen.

My husband always had a specific timeline for getting engaged (3 years of dating), and was really disappointed that he wasn't in the right place to propose ON our 3rd anniversary. But he made a new plan, chose a special date/event, and proposed a few months later. Waiting was TORTURE for me. I knew he was going to propose, but not when, and thus I constantly questioned IF it was going to happen. And when it did happen, it was perfect and I was glad I didn't push the issue more than I did (which was... plenty). And afterwards, I found out how stressed he was leading up to proposing. He did a ton of researching - he proposed on a trip, and had been reading forums of the best locations to propose, including making a specfici dinner reservation so we could catch sunset. He even planned where to get champagne afterwards! Despite everything, he was worried he wouldn't do it perfect, I would find out, I would say no (why?), etc. and it would all be ruined and be some horrible portent of our life to come. But nowhere in that was he not ready to propose, it was just a huge moment that terrified him.

I would advise you to talk to him about your concerns and anxieties. See what he says. If you feel this way, tell him the anxiety of waiting outweighs the excitement of the proposal if you are going to be waiting months for a proposal. Tell him the proposal is what is special and you don't need some fancy, Pinterest-inspired proposal. Tell him you're ready to start your life together, and you don't want to pressure him, but rather take the pressure off him. Tell him that every time a major "date" comes and goes, you're disappointed. See what he says.

If he repeats that he has a date picked out and he wants it to be a surprise, trust him. Deal with the waiting torture. Keep your nails looking good so you can take photos of the ring immediately to share with family and friends.
posted by DoubleLune at 1:49 PM on February 7 [10 favorites]

I can’t answer the question of will he propose in this calendar year, but I can ask you some probing questions.

Have you had open and vulnerable conversations about what being married looks like and means to each of you? What is marriage for? What sacrifices or accommodations might/must partners make?

Have you had open and vulnerable conversations about child rearing? How much work do you each imagine is involved in the endeavor? What sacrifices or accommodations might/must parents make?

Have you had open and vulnerable co versations abot health, money, extended family, travel, leisure activities, cleaning, and many other topics?

Yes, you live together. It’s easy to assume that these things have or naturally will just fall into place. But you have not made a lifetime commitment to each other. It can be possible to put up with or avoid many things when forever is not on the table.

Have these hard conversations. Think deeply about what you each say. Be brave enough to be honest with yourself about whether what you learn makes you more inclined to lifetime commitment, or makes you anxious, unsure, fearful, or otherwise uncomfortable.
posted by bilabial at 1:51 PM on February 7 [14 favorites]

I only ask questions when it's relatively negative towards anything in life

Totally fair point. But you’ve essentially been asking the “will he marry me?” question for 5 years. Look, I was with my ex-husband for 9 years before he proposed. I genuinely get it. But in the end him taking a long time to propose was for a reason, and we’re divorced now for a reason. Even though he was a wonderful man and we were very happy in many ways - and I’m sure it’s the same for you - ultimately it wasn’t right. In retrospect it actually would have been better if I had paid attention and ended the relationship earlier. So I’m seeing the younger me in you and gently suggesting that you already know the answer to this question. Best of luck.
posted by billiebee at 1:52 PM on February 7 [36 favorites]

What your internet experience has proven is that the answers you get will depend on the community in which you ask the question. Folks on a site that is largely about wedding/engagement excitement will see this as him stalling. Folks on this site will break down as between that, and (like me) "what does it even mean to say that you have a plan to be engaged, why don't you just ask him to marry you and get on with the planning." But maybe you are a person who has made it clear to him that you want a big "ask" in some traditional way and MAYBE he is finally ready to give you that. You've waited this long, so are you willing to wait a few more months and maybe he'll come through?
posted by sheldman at 1:53 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]

This did come up on Captain Awkward recently.

I pretty much nth that if he's not interested/excited in marrying you, this may not end well.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:54 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


I was excited to hear 'this year' because I didn't pressure him, I just asked if it was what he still wanted and when would he like to. Hearing online I guess makes me second guess my feelings if others have been in a situation that ended up sad. I'm hoping it isn't the case, I feel like if he wasn't ready then he wouldn't really want to talk but he was asking me questions and we were talking in detail, he's also been bringing up more like with diamond commercials or kids clothes which has never happened. Last time I brought it up he didn't give me a timeline and said he needed more money which has happened and now he said' this year' which is why I was thinking it will happen. I think it wouldn't hurt to get a bit more defined time like "before September" kind of thing. Also, my cousin even told me when I went to the bathroom they were having discussions about what kind of ring I'd like because I said she knows my style, likes, etc.

We sort of have a traditional role. I mean, he helps me cook and clean, and I sometimes take out the trash but generally I do more cleaning/cooking and he does more repairs. But we both split bills so we're not totally traditional.
posted by Asian_Hunnie at 1:56 PM on February 7

If you're okay with proposing, ask him tonight, and then set a date if he says yes. If you need him to propose, I would follow DoubleLune's script and tell him how much anxiety the phrase "this year" is causing you. Either way, you'll know for sure whether he wants to get married.

Do you want to get married, though? Because you've been waiting on this guy for almost a decade, and he's still being very vague with you about timelines. What if he doesn't propose in 2019? Will you have this same question a year from now?
posted by Nyrha at 1:58 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]

He says he'll propose on a special date this year. So the only real question is, do you believe that? If so, then be happy and wait for the surprise. If you don't trust that he'll propose in 2019, why not?
posted by kapers at 2:00 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]

@kapers, just the warnings I hear from others online.
posted by Asian_Hunnie at 2:06 PM on February 7

I have been married almost 25 years.

If this is the only thing you are waiting for then I guess it's a quirk. But I suspect that this is part of a pattern of withholding in your relationship that is bigger and I really agree with the people who are saying that you should ask him (thus both taking on the burden of asking yourself, but also taking the power of who gets to decide things like when we do things back).

What I would also be asking myself is not is this a stalling tactic? but why does this guy have to hold back something he knows would make me really really happy?

If the answer is profound, like he doesn't want to be married, then that's really important. And if the answer is he has to have everything perfect, well, that's some information about what you can expect in the future. And if the answer is he just can't be bothered figuring out something that's mildly hard (not mildly hard compared to, say, how will we get services for our autistic child? or how will I get you to chemotherapy appointments? which are, you know, the kinds of questions husbands and wives often eventually have to grapple with) then do you really want to wait for the answer here?
posted by warriorqueen at 2:13 PM on February 7 [38 favorites]

Of course we don't have the context of 7.5-8 years of a relationship, but why did you ask this question if you just want to tell us we don't have the context? I don't understand what you want us to say then.

I have been dating A LOT since moving to a new city in late January 2018 and here's what I've learned as one always true lesson, no one is EVER too busy to go out for long periods of time yet a lot of people sure say they are. It's about priorities. I judge based on actions and not words. Funny enough, I am now dating someone who has been gone 3 weeks in the first 6 weeks and has a lot of hobbies but she always makes time because she wants to see me. This relates to your question, I swear.

My point being, I have no idea what your relationship is really like but my life experience says if someone wanted to do a thing they would just do it. If they don't, they'd make an excuse or delay. "This year" is still 11 months of time...

No one is saying to just go dump him instantly, we're advising you to have an honest and open conversation. You've been together 8 years, that seems doable.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:15 PM on February 7 [11 favorites]

There are a million points of interest, some of which were covered in your previous question. It sounds like you both have had specific things that have popped up and you mutually agreed it was worth putting the question off: financial situation, grad school, etc, and you've had ongoing conversations about timelines and it sounds like you're not time-locked into having a wedding now as you previously said you'd like to get married in the next couple years.

The questioning in the thread about being "traditional" isn't about what roles you play at home, it's about what a proposal looks like. Does it have to be a special occasion, including a fancy dinner or party? Could he just reach over when you're on the couch, say something romantic, and pull out a ring? Does there even need to be a ring? If there does, could you have a discussion about how you'd like to get engaged soon and go ring shopping together with the expectation he'd go back and buy something you liked and propose soon after picking it up? Are you expecting him to talk to your family about his intentions -- and is this a thing both he and your family would do?

There are a lot of cultural expectations that could exist we have no idea about and every relationship is different. We don't have nearly enough information, and even if we did, we're not in your shoes so we don't know what is necessary and what expectations or traditions could go by the wayside because they make no sense in your situation.

It's a messy topic because you're asking "when am I going to be surprised with this thing I expect?" and the answer is you communicate to the point you lose part of the surprise, or you leave yourself in the dark and set up an alternate set of expectations as to what to do if this *doesn't* happen.
posted by mikeh at 2:24 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]

Yes, I think after 8 years it would be more like just a conversation than a 'surprise' proposal. I also worry that then you spend Valentine's day, your birthday, graduation day just a state of 'maybe today's the day' and then being (potentially) disappointed. It seems...not ideal. And very power-imbalanced. But I am not married so haven't been in that situation, but I would hate the uncertainty and the role of 'standing by until being given the okay' and hoping each occasion is the one and having them tainted if they weren't. I would think it's more of an "Okay- you want to propose this year so we would have the wedding next year- I like the sound of November, what about you?" It's not the romantic ideal you want but after 8 years and now living together, I'm sure life isn't a constant rom-com anymore anyway. (I would also be tempted to move out).
posted by bquarters at 2:29 PM on February 7 [16 favorites]

If you want him to marry you, ask him to marry you.
posted by waffleriot at 2:30 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]

Yes, this is a thing some men do.

They do not have any specific intention as such of proposing, but a year is a long time, and they might want to propose within that time so they say that. Probably it's an attempt to get their girlfriend to stop talking about wanting to get married, or to give themselves some sort of moral high ground on the subject.

That doesn't mean that your partner is one of those people. You know him better than we do, and better than random other forum people do.
posted by plonkee at 2:32 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]

All I can say is that I've known a lot of women who have waited and waited for their boyfriends to propose, dropping hints, asking just enough questions to learn "he says he wants to propose sometime" but never having a detailed
practical conversation about marriage or a wedding, etc. Having also been in this situation myself, I think it is an awful dynamic that is very likely a symptom of larger problems/incompatibilities. But I'm just a stranger on the internet. I have no idea if my general experience translates to your specific one. A question you may ask is: why do you care what random strangers on the internet think about this? If you can't discuss this, for real, with your boyfriend, that is a cause for concern and reflection I think.

Take care.
posted by sockermom at 2:43 PM on February 7 [17 favorites]

Did this, pinned him down to a two week period, he grudgingly proposed at the end of that two week period and then grudgingly agreed to a venue and grudgingly sent in the deposit at the last minute and I got so sick of being treated like a burden that I ended it.

If you need him to propose sooner rather than later because waiting stresses you out, he should want that information and he should be open to speeding things up for you. He should be happy to help calm your anxiety with a timeline. He should be reassuring and enthusiastic about proposing.

Tl;dr: tell him a year is too vague and is making you anxious. If he’s willing to fix it, that’s a good sign. If he’s Mr. Mystery and acts like you’re being annoying, well, it’s a delay tactic.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 2:43 PM on February 7 [39 favorites]

If the two of you can't communicate about this well enough that you're posting the Asks that you have, then how are you two going to handle the communication and negotiation necessary to a satisfying and successful, long-term relationship -- married or not?

Please seriously consider joint premarital counseling (such as Prepare/Enrich perhaps) with a competent counselor.
posted by dancing leaves at 2:44 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]

Have a conversation with him about which month in 2020 would be preferable for a wedding, given your respective workplaces and any existing personal events. Say you decide on April. So, April 2020 you're getting married. Start planning. Have actual discussions about flowers, venue, food. Start putting together your guest list. Taste a bunch of cakes.

Meanwhile, wait for him to come up with his Perfect Proposal (TM). That way, he can still have the surprise element and you can have the certainty that yes, you guys really are getting married.

If he doesn't want to have the conversation about when the wedding would be, I'm sorry but....
posted by basalganglia at 2:47 PM on February 7 [31 favorites]

I dated my wife for 6 years before proposing. She was very interested in getting married much earlier in the relationship than I was. Over the years, we would talk about it and I would think about it and ultimately decide just to "wait a bit longer." Very often it was easy to identify some "thing" to cause a delay... better financial situation, better living situation, jobs, family struggles, etc...

But, none of those were the real reason that I delayed. The real reason I delayed was because, in my head, I was playing out different scenarios in the event that "things went bad." And, in doing so, I realized it would be a whole lot easier to separate, if needed, if we weren't married than if we were. I had no indications that the relationship would end. I wasn't unhappy or dissatisfied in anyway. I just kept thinking to myself "hey, things are going fine, why do anything that will make life harder if they stop going fine."

What I selfishly was not considering was that, to my wife, getting married was a public proclamation of my love and dedication to her and that was very important. We eventually had a big argument about it and I ultimately got out of my own head and over myself. I wasn't going anywhere. She wasn't going anywhere. So I proposed later that day and we've been happily married for 15 years.

I don't know if your boyfriend is like I was or not. But, I was being an inconsiderate asshole and he is too.

If he loves you and he knows this is important to you, then it should happen tomorrow and not on some unknown "special date."
posted by Jacob G at 2:53 PM on February 7 [22 favorites]

I shared my excitement on a wedding/engagement/relationship forum and everyone felt like this was a stalling tactic they've seen with many men and that 'this year' is too vague.

I think this is your problem. IMHO, those forums tend to self-inclusion and an overweening conceit that they're the end all be all of rational thought and decision.

There is no concrete timeline for desiring to get married, and trying to force someone's hand isn't going to do you or them any favors.

I do understand the 'shit or get off the pot' mentality, but at the end of the day they either want to get married or they don't. Some people don't see marriage as a desired outcome or can even feel threatened by the suggestion. Sometimes people's feelings change over time, maybe they don't see marriage as something they want now, but that can change in the future.

I wouldn't put too much weight behind the idea that *any* online forum knows what is best for your and your proposed partner. All we can do here is offer advice and our own personal experiences.

However this works out for you, I wish you good luck.
posted by Sphinx at 3:01 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]

When I got together with my current husband, whom I had dated in college, I explained to him that I didn't want to live together for a long period of time without being married, not because I wanted a piece of paper, but because if something happened to either of us, say, medically, that I wanted him to be able to make decisions for me, and vice versa (did he want his family to step in or have me legally able to make those decisions?). I also explained that it was important to me.

Soon thereafter, he took time off from work, went to a pawn shop and bought a tiny opal ring, came home, and burst through the door of our bathroom, where I was having a soak in the tub, got down on one knee, and proposed.

Granted, we are older people, had both been through multiple relationships, but he listened to me and I guess he thought about it and agreed. We had a tiny wedding ceremony with just a few people, and Thai food, no big spending, but it was cool, and we are still cool with each other 12+ years later. I just didn't want that uncertainty, and he didn't care one way or the other, but he did see my point and wanted to make me happy.

I didn't give him an ultimatum, it was more of a scenario of what would happen if this happened and we weren't married? And I think he saw the logic in that. As it happens, he did have cancer 3 months after we were married, and had to have surgery, so guess it was lucky for him that I was there and didn't have to call his relatives from far away to deal with it and of course I was there to take care of him during his recovery. I guess we would have worked it out either way, but not sure I would have waited around for several years because I ain't got time for that stuff (I did wait before, with another guy, many years, and the marriage lasted about 1 minute when he finally proposed, it was a disaster).

Maybe it's a timing thing, we both agree if we'd married in college, it would have not ended well. Now we get along, he puts up with me, and I put up with him. I can crawl into bed and say, "are you my snuggle bunny?" and he says, "yes, I am!" and I turn out the light and we are cosy together.

I think it's more are you putting off your life waiting? Because that's sad. Most men want women to be happy, and if this is making you unhappy, what does that say about him? It seems like as slow form of torture, this gendered waiting on a guy to propose. It's your life, only you can decide if it's worth it, but take if from me, if a guy wants to have you in his life, he will do whatever it takes to make you happy.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:10 PM on February 7 [26 favorites]

It sounds like you were feeling excited that he said "this year" without you explicitly pushing him on giving a timeframe, and then the responses you read on the other online forum made you worry, and you are coming here for a second opinion.

There are lots of good points above about the importance of communicating with him clearly about this. I think you should tell him the things you have told us: you were excited when he said this year, but the uncertainty of when is making you feel anxious and worried, and you would like a more specific timeline (like "before September" or whatever). It's fine to want to do a more "traditional" and gendered approach to the act of proposing, but you should make sure you are communicating with each other about your assumptions, fears and timelines.

If you talk about all the above honestly, you'll have more information and so will he. If he is evasive and unwilling to give you a more definite answer after you've made it clear that not having one is causing you pain and anxiety, well, that's important information for you to know. If he takes you seriously and gives you more information or adapts his plans based on what you tell him about what you want, then that will be good information to know too!

Good luck to you!
posted by aka burlap at 3:21 PM on February 7

Also, one more thought building on mikeh's answer above: both of you might be feeling like that talking too much about this will ruin the surprise and make the ritual of proposal not special. I don't think that is the case. It will actually make it better by making sure no one has incorrect assumptions that lead to disappointment. Talk about what you both expect out of a proposal, and get on the same page about what's going to happen with yours. It will still be special when it happens! And as a bonus you will have gotten practice in a very important relationship skill: communicating clearly about expectations.
posted by aka burlap at 3:28 PM on February 7 [8 favorites]

Isn’t a promise to propose essentially a proposal in itself? Like if you’ve already agreed that you will accept the proposal when it is made, then the actual act is just performative. The proposal has already happened, in effect. Anybody who would pretend otherwise is not really being honest with themselves
posted by moorooka at 4:36 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]

@moorooka I disagree that the proposal has already happened- we know Asian Hunnie wants to get married but we don’t know about her man - it sounds like she was the one to bring up the topic and he has said he will propose but those are just words until he actually does- we don’t know if he is the kind of guy who always does what he says he will or not, but it is dangerous to assume he is proposing when all he has done is make a vague promise in response to a question from OP.
posted by EatMyHat at 5:04 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]

He's waiting for a special date?
..... doesn't proposing on any given date automatically assign whichever day that is to being the "special date?"
He specifically told you that you wouldn't have to wait any longer, (and you're starting to resent him for it) so what exactly is he waiting for?
posted by OnefortheLast at 5:21 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]

Hm, sounds to me like a guy who knows what would make you happy and isn't giving it to you. Why doesn't he want to give you what would make you happy? Especially when what would make you happy is him?
posted by HotToddy at 5:26 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]

Waiting boundary-less for a proposal is giving your boyfriend an awful lot of power over your own happiness here. Seven years with no proposal, after you’ve asked and asked? Naw, that’s not someone who is genuinely about making you happy. You want marriage and babies in the near term? Bounce, boo. I bet he’s one of those “don’t know what you got til it’s gone” dudes who will suddenly get serious about putting a ring on it only after you’ve broken up, and he knows you’re dating other men. Ugh.
posted by edithkeeler at 5:43 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]

Yes, to everything stated already. I was within someone for the exact length of time as your relationship and he strung me along for years by telling me it would happen soon, any day now. I was always the one to bring it up, he never did and eventually every occasion turned to resentment for a proposal that would never come.

This charming man even put a ring in a box one Christmas and when I opened it expectantly he flippantly said it was because I always mentioned wanting to have a ring (when I was clearly referring to an engagement ring) so here, he bought me one, but just so you know, it’s not an engagement ring! The cruelty of deliberately dangling that in front of me and then telling me it wasn’t one was unbearable.

Anyway the lack of engagement amongst a host of other issues made me pull the pin. It was only after we broke up that he told me he never had any intention of marrying me and he just told me it was coming so I wouldn’t leave.

So....I’m sorry, if he’s not as keen as you, if he’s not talking dates or about your future married life together and bringing it up himself because he’s excited... it’s not happening. I know what it should look like now because when I met my now husband, he was the one asking about our future, talking about what he wanted and excited for our life together. We were engaged after a year. That’s what you want - someone who is as keen to move forward together as you are, and that’s what I want for you too.
posted by Jubey at 6:15 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]

You are getting a lot of responses saying that if your boyfriend isn't rushing you to the alter he isn't interested. So I am going to give you a different response based on my own experience with my (now) husband. Here is the story of how we got engaged:

- We were living together and had been dating for 4 or 5 years.

- We had many many many conversations about wanting to be married and wanting to have kids together but nothing ever happened. He let me know that it was important to him that he would be the one that proposed. I was fine being the one to propose, but wanted to respect this.

- We got into a huge fight where, when I was 33, I told him I wanted to be pregnant by 35 and was going to do it with or without him. It was more important to me to have kids than it was to be married. He really wanted to be married before having kids. We walked back the timeline and he felt surprised that we would need to be getting engaged so soon relative to the conversation (because he also wanted to have the kind of wedding that it takes a year to plan)

- We then entered this terrible limbo time (of about 6-9 months) where we started planning a wedding, but he hadn't actually proposed and didn't want to tell anyone we were engaged because he had a specific idea in mind for the proposal. This hurt me SO MUCH and almost tanked our entire relationship. I couldn't help but feel he didn't really want to get married and that I was having to drag him through every single step. (Though in his defense, he went out and secured a venue for us during this time.)

- He planned a vacation for us and I KNEW it was when he was going to propose, but then we couldn't go because a major snowstorm shut down our airport for several days. I told him that I absolutely could not wait anymore and that if "something" was going to happen during the trip, it needed to still happen; he needed to come up with plan B.

- He came up with plan B and proposed. We got married and have a baby together and (as far as I know and I think I do because we communicate a lot) we have a very happy marriage.

I understand why people say that these things shouldn't be work and that you shouldn't have to issue ultimatums to feel loved by your partner. But, you know, every partnership is different. I KNEW my husband loved me. I KNEW marriage would make us both happy. And I KNEW I had to be the one to lead us there, even as he held such traditional views about the man being the one doing the proposing. Along the way though this certainty was damaged; I was damaged, and we were damaged. It took time, energy, and work for it to heal (including couples counseling).

I think you need to ask yourself: if you do get married and everything works out "how you want it," could the two of you heal from the damage all this doubt is causing? It's possible you can do it. It will take both of you being willing to acknowledge the hurt, repair it, and keep on repairing it as it comes back up.
posted by CMcG at 6:16 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]

Let's say the "special date" he's waiting for is Dec. 25, 2019.

Is that worth waiting for?
You decide to wait. He proposes. Great.

If you wait, and he doesn't pop the question at Christmas, I certainly hope you have the bags packed and the Dear John note written by 8 am Dec. 26th!
posted by BlueHorse at 6:33 PM on February 7

I’ve been engaged three times in my life, none of those situations involved any drama of this sort.

I think there’s a good possibility that he might be stringing you along.

It’s a blessing in giving you a clear indication of his intentions though, no ring by next year? See ya!
posted by Middlemarch at 7:29 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]

This is the 4th ask about marriage for this guy that you've been seeing for almost a decade, and he's known for years you wanted to be married before 30? Now you're about to be 30! Are you ok with possibly waiting throughout the entire year to see if it will happen? If so then yes, ignore the wedding/engagement forum folks. Or propose to him? I hope you get what you want.
posted by ataco at 7:40 PM on February 7 [6 favorites]

Some people are very deliberate in life. Some people will test drive many cars more than once before they buy one. Is this guy a deliberate person by temperament? Maybe that is part of the reason for the wait.

My husband proposed the first time within, what, six months of dating. No games, no anxiety (besides my own commitment issues coming up). I didn't take it seriously until we had more history but he made his desires known without games. I think he proposed about four times before I finally said yes.

It was a welcome change from the angst of other partnerships where there's all that longing and thwarted desire.

I think you need to balance the power a bit. He's had all this time to allow it to unfold according to his own whims. The least he can do is be more specific about when, or as suggested above, agree to a date and then backfill the magical proposal. It's selfish to take this long when someone has made their needs and intentions as clear as you have.
posted by crunchy potato at 7:59 PM on February 7

If you really want to know where his head is at, act like you absolutely believe him and there will be a proposal this year. Progress the conversation beyond wedding rings and look to firm up times of year etc. If you assume you’re getting married, start talking about where and when you might like to have the wedding. (Depending on the kind of venue you want, some need to be booked early so it’s not at all out of the realm that you would have to discuss it now anyway). Who would you invite? How many people? How do you plan to budget for it?

If he freaks out and stalls and won’t even entertain the discussion, I would strongly suggest he has no plans of marrying you, simply because if you’re planning on being married in the next few years, these are the conversations every couple needs to have about this far out. You don’t need a formal proposal to talk about it - he’s already said that you will be engaged - that’s just a formality. This is you taking him seriously and believing him. Let’s see if you actually should.
posted by Jubey at 8:15 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]

I don't think being slow to an engagement is necessarily a red flag. One of my cousins and his girlfriend dated for 10 years before they got engaged (moving in together in year 2), and then were engaged for 10 years before they got married, and only got married because the niece who was born the year they started dating got engaged and they were like, "shoot, we probably should beat her to the altar, it's been over 20 years at this point."

But I do think that the fact that this has been a constant source of unhappiness for you for literally years is a red flag. And I think the fact that the two of you can't communicate about it in an honest and upfront manner is a HUGE red flag. When we got serious, my husband and I had different timelines for when we wanted an engagement to happen, but we talked about that early and often and we were both very aware of what the other person's timeline was and we were able to come to a kind of range of time where we both felt like it would be appropriate. The actual proposal was a surprise, but the fact that we were getting engaged was NOT a surprise, because we'd had that conversation a whole bunch of times.

I think you need to have this conversation with him until you feel like you're both comfortably on the same page. (I think you proposing to him would definitely be one way to have that conversation! But probably not the one you'd be comfortable with.) However, over the several years this has been an issue, and people have been encouraging you to have these honest conversations, you haven't been able to take that step, so I'm not confident you'll do so now. In that case, you need to have a date in mind -- January 1, 2020 -- where if he hasn't proposed, you're done. Because at a certain point, if you're not going to be honest with each other about your wants and needs and timelines, you have to say you're done waiting and move on. I'm not saying give him an ultimatum or a deadline, I'm just saying that you need to decide if he doesn't propose within the "this year" timeline, you're not going to wait around forever making yourself miserable and letting him string you along. There has got to be a point where enough is enough, and you're at a point where you need to figure out for yourself what that date is going to be. Or, decide that you'll never leave, and resolve to stop worrying about a proposal because you'd rather stay with him and not get married than move on and find someone else who will marry you. But this constant agonizing over it, without ever communicating and without an endpoint for you, is absolutely miserable. Put yourself out of your misery! Pick a date when you're done, and if it gets to be Thanksgiving and you're still waiting, start looking for apartments.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:02 PM on February 7 [6 favorites]

he has said he will propose but those are just words until he actually does

!!!! if saying you're going to propose is "just words," then what's a proposal

a promise is a promise, and promises can be broken but gentlemen don't break their promises. everything's "just words" until the wedding happens, and even then a marriage is just a promise that costs more to break. "just words" is like "just a piece of paper." they mean nothing from someone who can't be trusted, and everything from someone who can. this whole thing is about words. a proposal is. words.

don't know what's going on with everyone suggesting she be the one to propose, though. she already did:

I finally asked him what his intentions were with marriage and if he was interested.

that is a fairly unromantic and brisk proposal, but it got a vague Yes out of him so I guess it got the job done.

the question isn't Does he want to get married? but rather Was he lying when he said yes, he does? and the only way to guess that is to know him well enough to know if he always tells the truth and keeps his word. maybe he does. but right now they're both acting like they're not engaged yet even though he already accepted, as if that question and answer never happened, or as if I want to get married, do you? only carries speech-act weight if it comes out of his mouth, not hers.
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:26 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]

To look at it a different way - you are planning on organizing your entire life, family, work etc. around a *surprise* that will happen sometime this year. This doesn't strike me as particularly mature for anyone here. If you want to get married, propose. Be open to him saying no. You are 30, a good time to reassess relationships.
posted by Toddles at 10:32 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]

@ queenifbithniya I don’t think Asian Hunnie did propose because I don’t think she was intending to propose when she asked her partner what his intentions were and if he was interested. This couple seem to have pretty traditional gender roles as others have pointed out, which is why they are both acting like a proposal hasn’t happened yet- in their eyes it hasn’t.
posted by EatMyHat at 11:06 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]

everyone felt like this was a stalling tactic they've seen with many men and that 'this year' is too vague. Is this true? Is this often a stalling tactic?

Yes, it is. Which doesn’t mean it is for your boyfriend specifically - he may be doing this for another reason (maybe he gets himself into an anxious perfectionist loop over planning anything important, maybe he’s scared, maybe whatever) but yes, this is often a stalling tactic.

What might help is to look at what the forum people’s perspective can tell you. Not “do they have secret information about my boyfriend that I don’t?” - they don’t - but “why do these people want to tell me this?”. The answer would I’m guessing be something like, “they have spotted a mismatch between what he’s said and what I have taken from it, and they have seen this end in disappointment before.”

This is useful information for you to have. Because, whatever he means to do, the fact is that he is stalling. He said before moving in together that you wouldn’t have to wait much longer - and now you’ve been waiting two years, and the closest you’ve got is that he’s said “okay this year, at some unspecified time” and that he’s discussed rings with your cousin. You’re rounding that up to progress and the forum people are rounding that down to disinterest. Whichever one is closest to the truth, the bare facts are that you are still waiting.

I think you should set out to him that you have done a lot of waiting and you are getting tired of it, and that he needs to actually propose to you. If he hasn’t done so by [end of the year/summer/your anniversary/whatever], you need to start thinking about what you want from your future and whether this endless wait is it. I know this is a very hard conversation to have, but in the best-case scenario it’ll be fine because he does indeed have a set ‘special’ date in mind anyway, and worst-case... well, do you really want to still be thinking and guessing and worrying about this in ten years anyway? No, you don’t.
posted by Catseye at 2:17 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]

If being married to this guy is vital to your continued relationship with him, think long and hard about what you'd need to do and what your life would look like if you broke up with him because he never proposed. If thinking it through (logically, step by step, disentangling your life from his) starts breaking your heart? Propose to him. Then you'll have your answer and your path forward, regardless.

For what it's worth, I have had friends whose long term boyfriends have strung them along like your forum friends describe. This mostly stopped once I aged out of my twenties. Either people figured out they weren't the marrying type but had kids anyway, or broke it off. The only couple I know now like that are two queer guys in their forties, and that's a very different cultural context. But just because other people's boyfriends have used this stalling tactic doesn't mean yours is doing so. Guys don't have a hive mind, you know?
posted by Mizu at 3:00 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the advice everyone. I do know he loves me and I believe he is interested in marriage and kids because he’s brought it up a lot lately and discussing it. I guess whatever I say online doesn’t give a good perception of my relationship to you guys but for family and friends that know us, they know it’s good and it’s not any concern to how we are. I think some good things have been brought up here like to start talking about wedding next year if it is going to happen then he should be interested (which he has been), maybe have a better idea of the timeline, etc.

I think if it doesn’t happen this year, I’ll have to try my hardest to let go. I just think if I stay, the resentment and hurt inside won’t go away to think I’m not enough for someone to marry ever. I’ll try to give an update on what happens later whether or not he proposed.
posted by Asian_Hunnie at 5:06 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]

Good luck! And definitely if you start to get the idea from him that he is just throwing out "this year" to appease you, that it won't actually happen - don't be scared to cut your losses. I had a friend whose bf finally told her "NOT this year", it devastated her and she stuck with him out of obligation/hope for another unhappy year+. She eventually broke up with him and is now with her a new partner who makes her much happier.
posted by DoubleLune at 5:31 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]

I think there are some relationships where you’re never quite sure you’re on the same page, you’re never quite sure they’re committed, and marriage gains an extra degree of importance because it seems like conclusive confirmation that yes, this is the right relationship and they are definitely wholeheartedly in it. Marriage doesn’t really solve the commitment question, though; it just makes it harder to break up. The question will still be there.

This isn’t to say marriage isn’t important or valuable - it is - but in a long-haul relationship, it should be a little more clear at this point if marriage is where you both want to head. You should be confident enough in your relationship that marriage is the right move, rather than expecting marriage to give you that confidence.

I suspect he will dither indefinitely without some sort of push. I think you should be unafraid to bring up the subject and set a deadline, even if you want a surprise proposal; if you can’t ask your boyfriend for what you want now, it won’t get easier after you’re engaged or married.

If you are certain he wants to marry you, and certain you want to marry him, and just nervous about the timeline, it might help to decide that one year from now, you’ll propose to him. It might not be the scenario you want, but you’ll be taking the question into your own hands while still giving him time.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:11 AM on February 8 [6 favorites]

It's encouraging that he's bringing up marriage and kids. But you've waited more than long enough and it really doesn't seem fair that you need to wait up to another 11 months (till the end of the year). Tell him waiting is making you anxious and you'd really rather make the "we're getting married!" thing official sooner rather than later. What about a compromise: he still gets to pick a surprise date but you agree it will be in the first half of 2019 (e.g. by June 30th). If he proposes by then, great! - you both got the traditional gendered surprise proposal you wanted. If June 30th comes and goes and there's no ring, you walk.

When I was a bit younger than you, I was in a long-term relationship and I remember waiting for my boyfriend to make all the decisions about our life and relationship. There was so much waiting and so much disappointment. I held out hope that he'd ask for us to move in together. I thought that surely "any day now" he'd bring it up. One day I went over to his place and he'd hung new pictures on the wall and I remember feeling so crushed that he was settling into his place rather than showing any inclination of wanting to move to a new place with me.

In hindsight, I wish I'd spoken up more and had more adult conversations with him. Why was I silently waiting for him to make all the decisions for both of us?

It's great that you brought up the proposal conversation, but the problem is that you're back to the "silently waiting" stage, and I think these "silently waiting" stages need to be minimized. It's fine that both of you want a traditional gendered "man gets down on one knee" thing, but you've done more than enough silently waiting and it's time to tip the scales towards more even communication and far less waiting around.
posted by sunflower16 at 11:31 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]

Edit: I imagine you're reading my response and balking at the unromantic "deadline/ultimatum" June 30th thing. But the thing is, he's already set a deadline of end of the year, e.g. Dec 31st. You'd just be shortening the deadline.
posted by sunflower16 at 11:33 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]

Here's the thing: being "pre-engaged" is crazy-making, even when things are Really Good. When I started to read your question, I thought your forum was being unfairly negative, saying that when he stated his intentions he was just putting you off. But as I kept reading it became clear to me that YOU doubt his stated intentions, and you have good reasons for that.

Only you and he can know the answer to this question about your relationship. If I'd asked askme about my guy proposing (and included the not-great circumstances) they would have told me I was Clearly Delusional, I should dump him now. But I was Sure I wasn't delusional (so I didn't need to ask askme). He'd said proposing was something he wanted to do, and so I waited. But also, even during that crazy-making pre-engaged time I was thoroughly convinced that our (somewhat extensive) discussions about marriage had been rooted in love and practical considerations and that we were truly on the same page that we intended to marry. I was just waiting for the fun official proposal thing he wanted to do (and one more time, that waiting kinda Sucked - it's crazy-making!).

So I agree with @kapers above: if you don't trust that he'll propose, why not? You should be secure in his love before you accept any proposal, no matter how great.
posted by ldthomps at 11:37 AM on February 8

Just a thought after your update - how can things be good if you're waiting for him to propose to decide if you're staying?
posted by warriorqueen at 12:46 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]

My advice to you, if you continue reading this thread, is to stop putting so much weight on the opinions and experiences of anonymous strangers on the internet. Both here and wedding forums (which I consider to be some of the most toxic places on the internet). You are never going to get the reassurance that you seek from anyone except your boyfriend.

He said this year and asked how I felt about that.

Did you response include the fact that not knowing whether or when for the rest of the calendar year is giving you a lot of anxiety? I know from skimming your post history that getting married has come up before but does he know how really important it is to you?
posted by sm1tten at 12:56 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]

Is numerology of engagement and marriage dates something that is culturally important to either of you? If so, that could account for his needing to wait for a "special date..."
posted by OnefortheLast at 1:16 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]

Okay, so I was talking with a new coworker today and I got some insight on commitmentphobic dudes. It sounds like he and his wife have been off and on together for about a decade, have three kids, and only finally got married after the second kid, I'm guessing it was a couple of years ago. She wanted to get married a year in, he was wishy-washy, they kept breaking up and getting back together. He mentioned at one point they were going to get married in Hawaii and then he backed out, and very eventually consented to getting married at the courthouse because otherwise he'd chicken out. He even mentioned that "if I don't do it now I'm gonna come up with some other excuse." He definitely liked the idea of his freedom, and "while this is good, what if there's something else out there?"

But you'll note that having kids kind of eventually forced this (someone else also pointed out to him "what, she's good enough to have kids with but not settle down with?") here. I'm not saying "go get pregnant," but it seems to have taken kind of a lot in this situation.

I suppose we have a happy ending here, as he says things are good and is really into being a dad, but I was thinking this sounded exhausting. Shouldn't a guy be excited to marry you? Or is he still hoping maybe there's something better out there? Because if part of him is still hoping for better or new or whatever...good luck with that.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:14 PM on February 8

@sunflower16 actually know, that is a great idea.
posted by Asian_Hunnie at 10:24 AM on February 9

Let us know how things turn out.
posted by sunflower16 at 6:53 PM on February 9

Hey guys, update. He does have a date in mind and it will be before September. He then asked me for my ring size and wants to go look at rings. :) he’s also ready for kids but we are waiting until I graduate this year, get married and travel to one more big vacation lol
posted by Asian_Hunnie at 9:59 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]

That sounds very promising!
posted by sunflower16 at 12:16 AM on February 10

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