I was putzing around on Facebook the other day and discovered that my old running buddy, Bob, got engaged last month. And I will not lie, I was totally crestfallen. On my Feelings Meter (where one end is labeled with glittery gold lettering, “Happy for Bob! Yay!” and the other with, “Crazy Jealous Like a Pathetic Stereotypical Chick Lit Cat Lady”), the indicator is decidedly right of center, and fluttering wildly.

Engagement is a sensitive topic in our household. See, I don’t give a rat’s ass about tradition and I don’t really care for the whole formal proposal with three months salary riding on my ring finger bit. We’ve made the decision to get married. We’ve even marked the five year calendar with when we’re going to start adding kids to this whole chaotic mess. We have a joint savings account. In short, we make every decision together. But this one? This one, because tradition says so, is entirely up to him. And he couldn’t be in any less of a hurry to make it.

And it stings. Mightily.

I hear his reasons for waiting – he doesn’t like where he is financially at all and his Man Pride won’t let him bend that knee until he feels better about it. He wants to pay cash for the ring. And while I hear his reasons – and understand them in their universality slightly better after talking to my similarly-minded brother (there is, apparently, a very insightful Little House on the Prairie episode in which Almanzo temporarily cancels his engagement to Laura over money issues) – they do nothing to quiet the discontent I feel over the matter. I’m broke and in debt, too. But what’s that to do with love? I don’t need to be provided for – I’ve been doing a damn good job of that all by myself.

When we initially talked about moving in together, I said I’d like to be engaged first. Not as a rule, but as a preference. He had other ideas. Namely, that he thought we’d live together for six months or so and then get engaged. That didn’t seem unreasonable to me at all. So now here it is, one year later, and I’m keeping house and making dinners and picking up step-dog poop and folding laundry and helping with homework – playing the housewife without the title. I do all of these things gladly, but the lack of forward motion in our relationship makes me feel like a bunch of old ladies are sitting around somewhere tsk-ing about how he’s gettin’ the milk for free. He’s not moving forward because he has very little incentive to.

Except, you know, for being in love and excited about our future and wanting to.

The part of me that doesn’t fully understand Man Pride has been unable to help feeling that if he were as excited about us as he used to be, money wouldn’t matter. I don’t want a diamond ring. I don’t. Period. Because that’s not where our priorities should be right now, or really any time within the next five years. He’s in school. We’re in debt. But what I want is for our plans to be official and public. And, yes, I suppose I do care that we look legitimate to the rest of the world. He doesn’t, but I do. Maybe I shouldn’t, but I do.

Also – and I’m fully aware of how selfish this sounds – I’d like a little something for me. Something to be excited about. Our lives right now revolve, with minor interruptions, around dog excrement and school work. Investing in my beloved’s future is an investment in our future and so I’m happy to revisit fractions, edit English compositions and research Mt. Rushmore, but some days it feels like, in playing the supporting role, I have very little to look forward to for myself.

He loves me. Unquestionably. I know how much I matter to him. We’re happy together. And in my brain, I know that’s more important – that’s most important. But there’s another part – the heart part of me – that doesn’t know anything except that there used to be something so exquisitely special in feeling like we were terribly in love and couldn’t wait to spend forever together. And the more he hesitates, the less special I feel.

Like I said, it stings. Mightily.

124 comments to mightily

  • Stephanie

    I feel the same way in my relationship. I feel like if he really wanted to do it, it would have been done by now. It’s almost to the point that if he ever finally does ask me, I will want to say no, not because I don’t want to, but just so that in my head I can stick out my tounge at him and say Ha, now we’re even. (of course it’s things like the above statement that could be causing the delay in the first place)

  • Alyssa

    I can’t lie — I’ve been quite jealous of your pre-marital bliss….thinking, well, gee, Fish is in love and she’s happy and her life is perfect. And whoa is me, still single. But I read posts like this, and I don’t think, Yay, Fish is still stuck, like me. Nope. I think, Damn, you can still find your true love, and life can still be miserable. Sorry, Fish. Sending you hugs. I can’t lie, sometimes I think men use that “I’m just a guy” excuse to cover up something else. Like fear of commitment?

  • Olivia

    Two years ago it could have been me writing this blog. Verbatim. My boyfriend and I had done everything backward(moved in together, merged finances, bought a HOUSE)and I worried desperately that other people thought I was getting the short end of the stick. And I wondered if they were right. Before each milestone I had insisted on a proposal only to hear his arguments one more time (he was in school and wanted to focus on graduation) and succumb once more to his reasoning. As you say, the head and the heart are two very different matters. But here I sit today with a ring on my finger (two actually!). My now husband proposed on the very day that he earned his diploma. I can’t and won’t tell you how to feel, but I can tell you this: it’s worth the wait.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, dear. I’d hate for anyone to read that and think I’m miserable – because I’m not at all. Just on this matter, I’m conflicted, is all.

    - Heather

  • Heather – I’ve been where you are now with my husband. It was purely man-pride on his part – he had the same financial reasoning as the Dork Lord and I had the same “we’ve got everything but the official commitment” argument as you. Eventually I found my ring at an estate jewelry store and pretty much told him to buy it and propose, which luckily for him he did. Does the DL realize (can he?) how much the engagement actually means to you? What if you agreed to not plan the wedding yet; might that ease his manly financial worries? ~Another Heather

  • I ended up moving in with my boyfriend (now my husband of almost 14 years) after only a few weeks of dating. I just kind of stayed over one night and never went home. Soon after that we officially moved in together. I was blissfully happy (and a little scared) but also very aware that he was “getting the milk for free” as it were. So I told him that if, a year from now, he hadn’t proposed, that I would leave. Not to throw down an ultimatum, but because I really believed that if, after a year of living with me, he didn’t want to marry me or wasn’t ready to get engaged, that he never would be.

    He said he always thought he should date a girl for a least a year before proposing. So the calendars aligned pretty well. A month before the “deadline” he proposed to me, with ring, the night of our big fancy company Christmas party. We were married 6 months after that, and have been happily married ever since.

    His question was, “would I really have left if he hadn’t proposed?” and my answer was yes, that I would have. It would have broken my heart. But the year I spent with him made me realize how much I did want to be married, be partners with someone, all that. And that if he was unable to give that to me, I would have left, grieved, and then found someone who could.

    I hope boy understands that for all his plans and logic that it is hurting you and taking some of the joy out of your relationship. A teeny bit, perhaps, but over time it will add up. That last paragraph you wrote, I really hope boy has read it.

  • I don’t think you sound miserable. I can certainly understanding longing for that legitimacy and excitement—but still being very happy with The Boy. :) Just wanted to send a virtual hug and say I hope things come together soon. My boyfriend and I aren’t in that “everything-but-the-label place yet” (sadly living in two different cities right now), but I already anticipate $$ being a reason things get delayed. Part of me is okay with that, having been raised by two very frugal and responsible people (and knowing we both wouldn’t be in this if we didn’t see marriage happening)…part of me just wants to say WHO CARES and start our life together already.

  • Pascale Soleil

    I hope you said all this to the DL before you posted it on your blog. Open communication directly with one another about how we really feel is the absolute key to a successful relationship. If you did not feel free to tell him how much this bothers you, that should be a little red flag about the level of comfort and emotional trust you have with him.

  • Margaret

    Aww honey. I was together with my boyfriend for what was essentially four years before he proposed. Granted, we were in college, and then we were long distance. We didn’t move in together (for faith reasons), but I know how excruciating that wait for the right can be. Especially when it’s sort of a done deal. I just kept wondering why he didn’t feel it was important to get our lives started RIGHT NOW. Now, three years later, we’re married and our son is seven months old. I mean, sure, there’s an amount of perspective that helps now, because we are married now and we are starting our family. But looking back I still think I was right to wonder and be a little upset. Things will (hopefully) look different for you soon, but I think your pain is normal, and I hope you can talk to the boyfriend about it.

  • Anonymous


    Yes, of course we’ve talked about it. I know how he feels. He knows how I feel. Doesn’t change things much.


  • I am totally single, but I still really, really get this. I was in a similar situation in my last relationship and, well, needless to say, that didn’t work out. It sounds like in your case, he just doesn’t understand how important this is to you. Hopefully he will read this and have a lightbulb moment, and realize that you’re much too good to ever let get away.

  • sarah g

    Hi. I’ve been reading..I just dont comment anymore..I’m happy for you overall but wow, do I remember this! My guy was away at training for military and he wantd to ask my dad in person. fine.

    but as far as i was concerned..at that point..get to it already. why are you waiting?

    i was upset, cryin, fighting over it. it definitely took away the whole ‘pre-engagement’ excitement. so i’m really sorry! i love my proposal and i’m still getting married when we’d agreed..it was just very upsetting.

    i have nothing to help you. just..been there. know it!

  • sarah g

    …i read all of the comments..

    - no..not miserable..neither was I. I was happy just upset over that not proposing yet.

    - my fault though..he felt pushed too.. he wanted to, but wanted to make it more surprising..and i was too upset at the end.

    - he and i talked and talked about it. We had a deadline though of when we wanted to engaged.. he did it a month before the deadline but it was still annoying and upsetting.

    - you know he will propose. and i hope that he does, for the sake of the relationship! and for your joy !

  • taylor

    hey heather,

    i just wanted to say – and i don’t really know how to explain this, but i think you’ll get the gist of it – that i think it’s great your writing from the heart again. not that you weren’t entirely before! but i get the sense that you truly have reclaimed this space, and i’m really happy for you for that. thank you for sharing in the most honest of ways – because so many of us are here in this place with you, or have been before.

  • Jessica

    I am so completely there with you.

    And I, like you, know that my man loves me unquestionably, and yet, I cannot fathom how that hasn’t translated into a ring. It hurts even more because I’ve made it clear how badly I want one.

    My wish for you is that the people you’re around don’t continually ask when you’ll get the ring. Days like those unhinge me.

    - Jessica

  • Em

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now but don’t usually comment. This post explains how I feel to a T. The only difference is that I am now living in a different city than my boyfriend…which adds even more complexity to the mix!

    It’s amazing how happy I can be with him and our relationship, yet how much I struggle with wanting to ‘seal the deal’. It’s funny, but I read ‘The Bridal Wave: A survival guide’ recently and realized for the first time how much the lack of control we women have bothers me. I’ve told him plenty of times that I want to get married. Yet, it is completely up to him to buy the ring and propose…so I wait! Ugh!

    It helps to know that I’m not alone in my frustration and confusion. I wish you the best! Thanks for posting.

  • Andrea

    Sigh, I so get this post. And I totally get that whole “not being miserable” part, it’s more this nagging uneasiness, that’s not always there, but something happens (i.e. someone else gets engaged) and it rears its ugly head. It’s not the same for boys, if they have a girlfriend they love that’s enough for them, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with us girls wanting more. Maintaining the status quo only works for so long…

  • Anonymous

    Oh, yeah, Jessica. It’s AWESOME when my mom makes comments about us not being engaged, or how I’m wasting precious baby making time.

    God. Kill me.


  • Hi Heather,

    My boyf also gave me a wicked hard time about getting engaged (pathetically related to his mother’s ill will towards me, nothing to do with $$).

    Our ‘engagement’ eventually came with a two hour wait at a computer repair shop, followed by a quick trip to a jeweller and dinner in Chinatown. Yup, that’s my guy!

    We are celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary this year, and are happily married. Of course when I hear about surprise engagements and sweeping romantic gestures, my heart does a little flip-flop, as that was never me.

  • I’m impressed that you wrote this- I think it’s really hard to admit when you feel a way that, well, a way that a srtong, independent woman “shouldn’t” feel. I think it’s very brave to give a voice to one of those things that even though we should be beyond feeling, we still feel, anyway.

  • Emily

    I just had to comment on this post, because reading it, I had a reaction in my gut. Like many others, I am RIGHT there with you. And it is maddening. I am a control kind of girl – and realizing I have NO control over when he does or does not propose…well, it’s led to many tears that I never let him see. Sure, we’ve had the conversation. But I would never want to make him feel like I was giving the ultimatum. But the longer this goes on…his doubts cause me to have doubts…and when do you (I) decide when enough is enough? If only I knew. Thanks for posting. You put into words what I could not.

  • Boys can be so…stupid sometimes. There was a boy that I loved for a long time. He loved me too, but wasn’t ready to start anything that might end in marriage…yet. So we casually dated for a couple of years, and we both dated other people too.

    and after a couple of years, I married somebody else. I was tired of waiting for him to be ready. I would have taken ready to steady, even.

    Granted, my situation was different…I was tired of feeling like I was on the back burner while he tried to see if there was anybody better.

    But I know it hurts. and I’m sorry. and I hope you can find a compromise that makes you both happy.

  • Well I’ll throw my hat into the ring as another one that’s been there. We bought a house, had a joint bank account, everything but the ring, I guess. Which, really, is an impressive commitment, so looking back, I don’t know why I felt so badly that I needed that “title.” He wanted to wait, I pushed a bit. Maybe a bit too much. He finally proposed (without a ring. we picked my real ring out together) and it was wonderful. Had I pushed or not, we still would have ended up in the same place. But, honestly, my pushing made me wonder sometimes. And for the few months after we got engaged, I wondered if it was REALLY what he wanted and if maybe I had pushed too much, too soon. The not knowing started to drive me a little crazy. I finally broke down and we had a verrry long heart to heart. He admitted that I did push him a little bit but that we would have ended up here anyways. And that, of course he loved me and wanted to marry me. I didn’t get an insanely romantic, planned for months proposal and that’s okay. But sometimes I wonder what he would have come up with if I had let him do it his way, when he wanted to.

    I don’t know if this helps, but try to be patient. Don’t push too much. I totally understand your frustration but if you don’t let him do it the way he wants to, he could end up feeling coerced and you could end up feeling resentful for having to push and push to get him to do it. And that’s no way to start an engagement.

    Hang in there! You never know what he might have up his sleeve!

  • Thank you for writing this. Seems like a lot of us readers could just get together and form a support group.

    As Harry said in When Harry Met Sally, “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want that life to start now.”

    I wrote a post about being impatient last week and had several readers jump on me with the “He’s Just Not That into You” lecture. I’m glad you have nicer people here. And I hope it helps to know that so many of us can relate.

  • Barbara E.

    Would you be willing to visit the Dallas City Hall and just do it? Would he? Have you 2 discussed this scenario?

  • Melanie D

    A year ago, this was me… except minus the moving in together and dog excrement. My now fiance (we are getting married in just over a month!) told me when we first started dating that we could not even talk about marriage until we had been together a year. Seeing as we were best friends for a year and a half before we started dating, I thought this was unnecessary, but I let the year come and go.

    So, start of year two together, he tells me, “I will not propose to you until we have been together for two years, and not on the day of our anniversary.” I wait some more. We are happy. By this time, I have decided that I am going back to graduate school, and he said he will follow me to wherever I move. I want to be at least engaged before we live together, so I try push him a little. He gets my grandmother’s engagement ring over Thanksgiving… “PROGRESS!” I think!

    Our two year anniversary comes and goes…and nothing follows in the subsequent weeks. We have a few fights about the topic, and eventually, more than four months after I thought he would propose, he finally does. And, the proposal is sweet and thoughtful and full of love.

    My advice is this: I know it stinks, but the fights stink more. My guy wanted to wait until I wasn’t talking about it…to add to the romance, surprise, etc. Now, after planning a wedding in ten months, with me in one state, him in a different state (he is moving after the wedding), and the wedding in my home state, I wish the time had not flown by so quickly.

    Take your time. It’ll happen when it happens… And, when it does, schedule the wedding a ways out, so you have plenty of time to plan and enjoy all the attention that a bride-to-be invariably receives.

  • Anonymous


    It’s not the wedding that’s the issue. It’s simply the engagement. I don’t want to get married for a bit – I want to have time to save and plan in the most sane, cost-effective manner possible. But as for eloping – it’s something that appeals to me, but not him. The actual wedding will be a compromise. But since his sister eloped last week, I figure we can’t get away with it without seriously hurting his mom’s feelings – she might like to see one of her two children wed.

    I think it’s so funny that people ask if we’ve “discussed” things. Of course we have. We talk about everything.


  • oh, I hear you about ‘Man Pride’. I made all the same arguments on the side of love for love’s sake as well. He countered with ‘being financially ready to provide’ and that it had to be initiated by him. All true but it was still difficult for me to deal with as I waited for my now fiance to propose. I believe it was completely worth it only because I can look back on the waiting without any pain or regret, but acknowledging to myself that it was perfectly okay for me to feel that way. It’s justifiable and fine for you to feel this way- don’t worry. If I knew you personally and were able, I’d offer you a hug and a glass of wine. You’ll make it through.

  • may

    stop being whiny. it’ll happen when it happens.

  • Kelli

    Um. Should I point out, you do have control. You don’t have to follow tradition. You could propose to him. No reason that can’t happen. Just throwing it out there.

    And, you said you don’t care about the diamond. Do you mean now or ever? If it is just the former (that you don’t want a ring now, but want one in the future) and he knows this, that might explain his reluctance to pop the question without the ring. I personally did not want an engagement ring. I know I am in the minority, but I think it is an antiquated idea of property that is unfair to woman. My hubby did propose, but without a ring. It was simple and sweet and we were married 8 months later. We do wear wedding rings, but nothing fancy. We felt that money could be put to better use elsewhere.

    More food for thought- If you have decided already that you are getting married, then you essentially are engaged. That is what an engagement is, deciding you are getting married.

  • Anonymous


    What a shitty, flippant thing to say. This is my life, and being ill at ease with handing over the power to make decisions about it is not whiny. And I’m pretty sure it’s normal.


  • Carrie Boo

    Wow this is a rare moment when I think “Thank goodness I’m divorced!” Lol.. I already did the big traditional wedding 9 years ago to my very first boyfriend.. Well that didn’t last! Since I’ve already done the married thing, nobody bothers me about it – which is great! I’ve been with my current boyfriend for 5 years this month and in the beginning I had absolutely no desire to get married again – because getting divorced was a pain! Now I would if he asked, but I’m happy either way. My bf and I can just enjoy our life together, without the added pressure. If and when he decides he wants to get married, I’m finally at a point where I’d be happy to do it again. But it guarantees nothing, as I’ve already found out, so I can take it or leave it. I also used to worry about my “baby-making years” since I’m now almost 33, but then I figured out I’m pretty sure I don’t want kids! What a relief! Now I can just be happy with my boyfriend and live our happy, relaxed life and not worry about the supposed “LifePlan” – or finding enough money for kids and not being able to pay off my debt (2 1/2 years to go!) or save for retirement or sleep in on Sundays or being forced to watch Elmo 24 hours day or eat ice cream for dinner. Not worrying about my eggs has made it all so much easier!

  • I can completely relate to this post. My significant other and I have been married for almost two years now, but it took three years for us to get there. We moved in together not long after we started dating… we did the joint bank account thing about a year into our relationship… we lived life exactly as a married couple, minus the marriage part. He wanted to be in a certain place financially before we got married and started a family, and while I understood his feelings, I didn’t understand why we had to wait to get married when we were already living like we were. Eventually he came around and we had a courthouse wedding, because I didn’t care about the fancy dress or big cake or ceremony… I just wanted to be married. I hope the two of you are able to find a compromise that you’re both happy with, and I hope you feel better soon.

  • Brooke

    I’m with Kelli on this one. I find all the discussion of “control” in the comments a little unsettling. Why can’t the decision to marry be jointly made and jointly acted upon?

    And, for what it’s worth, I don’t think that falls on you in particular, Heather. It’s more something that rankles me about society.

  • Heather, everything you’re feeling makes total sense to me. I just wanted to reiterate the comment that it’s brave of you to talk about it (to us, as you and the Dork Lord are obviously communicating well on the topic), and I hope that sharing it helps alleviate a little of the internal conflict.

    I’ve been so happy to follow you and DL’s story. It makes me happy to see two people so well suited for each other, and who make it through the ups and downs with grace.

  • kristen

    i truly believe that guys cant be pushed. I didnt push my ex (we had the whole ‘joint life, investment in his education, life plans/timelines’ going on) nor did i push my now-fiance – who, on our wedding day, i will still have known a shorter time than my relationship with that ex…

    are the DL’s friends married? having babies? buying houses? I think when guys see their friends doing it it can go one of two ways.

    -they want to do it too.

    -they look at their friends and know that they cannot financially do it the same way those guys do so they arent even going to throw their hats into the ring until they can compete…

    its actually sad/shocking how little it probably has to do with your relationship and how much it has to do with his ego.

    which is twisty and a weird statement on our society but hopefully is a bit of comfort when you are feeling less special…

  • Cambria Copeland

    We have a baby, and another on the way. We bought a house in a different state that we feel is the right place to raise our daughters. Our money is separate, but we utilize family plans for the gym and cell phones. But, technically, we are not engaged. And, I’ll admit, I’ve been a bit bitter about it, even though I understand his reasons. I think it’s the man pride thing, covered with his need to buy me a diamond, which personally I can live without.

    But today, today he ordered me a ring…

  • Megan

    Giiirl, I’m in the same boat. About 5 months ago, my boyfriend announced (totally unprompted) that instead of celebrating our 1 year dating anniversary, he wanted to get engaged…then, renegged. He told me that it’s got nothing to do with me (he’s sure I’m the one for him) and everything to do with finances (i.e. he wants to feel he can be a provider). We’ve talked about it ad naseum and there’s nothing left to say. I am sort of left to deal with my disappointment and frustration…and each day that passes I feel worse and worse. The advice I’ve received from friends has been a mixed bag of “break up with him” to “stick it out so long as you’re happy” and everything in between. I even went to a therapist (an $$$ therapist not covered by my health insurance at that) to try to find a way to keep this from causing all consuming depression. His sister (older, single) made a comment about how this isn’t a big deal because it’s “not like he’s dragging his feet”. WTF on that one, huh? And, I’m constantly asked if we’re engaged yet (sometimes in front of him). I am so sick of answering that I have started to defer the question to him. Awkward. Accutely painful. Oh, and we have a wedding to go to this weekend…his friend who proposed after 3 months of dating his now fiance and soon to be wife.

  • the miller

    I know it’s the last advice you would want to follow but- be patient. If he has any friends that are worth a damn, they will encourage him to put aside at least some of his man pride. I have a buddy that was the same way. He wanted a certain amount in savings, to reach a certain salary level, and be secure in his career first. Between his girlfriend (now wife) and myself, he was finally convinced how unromantic and foolish that was. I have faith your man will come around to your way of thinking soon enough. Best of luck!

  • Samantha

    Went through the exact same thing. We lived together for two years before getting engaged and are waiting a year and a half for the wedding. I know it’s tough, but it gets better. Plus, when he does propose, it will feel so effin good. And he will have everything ready and waiting for you,

  • Emmi

    Oye. I’ve been feeling a bit of this lately too. Not as bad (as I am a mere 22 years old) but since a lot of my friends have been getting engaged, and the boy and I are at nearly 2 years of dating, people keep asking us when we’re getting engaged.

    While we do plan on getting married, we don’t plan on doing it just yet. We don’t live together, but hopefully, come graduate, our jobs will take/keep us in the same city and we’ll move in together. Part of me wants to get engaged just so everyone will stop asking me when I’m getting engaged. It is the most annoying thing ever.

    However. I have told him that it’s absolutely ridiculous to spend 3 months salary on a ring. In fact, since I have itty bitty hands, I want a small ring. with a small diamond. But I get the Manpride thing. My only question for all those pro-Heather proposal (as in, you proposing)…do you have to buy the ring or does he? Or how about you go dutch? After all, you’re going to be wearing it for a very long time. I hope :)

  • kitty

    I hope your running buddy only hears how happy you are for him.

  • Dude, I’m feelin’ ya.

    My best guy friend and I decided to make it something more. And it was the best decision I ever made. Three days after we decided it was more than a friendship, we were discussing our wedding and how we wanted it more than anything, and soon. We said we were going to take it slow, but I was packing my stuff up and moving in 8 weeks later.

    Like you, my guy had the same financial reasons. I had the same criteria: no diamond, just something. Something to advance this relationship. It’s a weird feeling, to be happy with someone, and to KNOW you are getting married, but just not to have the official ‘we are getting married!’ traditional ring thing.

    So yeah, he finally proposed in early December. To one up your story, I had an inkling he got the ring, as I work from home, one day a package was delivered from New Zealand. I ask him what it was, as he is always aware of any package being delivered to the house and prompts me of when it should get there and what it is. ‘Umm… I’m not sure.’ he stammers. I open the invoice sheet and see ’1 sterling silver ring’ and almost lose it. He asks if there was any paperwork or anything written on it, I said no. I didn’t want to ruin the surprise, if there was a surprise. Or maybe it wasn’t even the ring. And then the mind games started.

    He waited almost two weeks after it came in the mail. I tried playing dumb. I tried not asking about it. My birthday was coming up. He told me he really wanted to make sure I had a special day. I told him I could care less about my birthday… but made sure to at least shower and look decent. No proposal. I was so upset and confused and glad but just wanted it to be over! Maybe it wasn’t the ring at all. I let it go. 4 days later, he asked.

    So, by telling you this long story, it will happen. You’ll love the day it happens. And then you can move on. :)

  • AntiMame

    It’s okay to just be a girl about this.

    Woody Allen said. “the heart wants what it wants.” Cinderella said “I don’t want to turn into a pumpkin, waiting.” It’s just the way girls think, and it’s perfectly okay.

    But for men it’s a completely not-emotionally based scenario and a guy has to wait for the path to his future to clear before he makes formal commitments that tie into it. It’s basically like Kansas: The one state in the US map puzzle that looks like it should fit in several places but turns out to only work in one perfect spot once you get the surrounding states in place.

  • I couldn’t have read this post at a more perfect time. My boyfriend and I have been together for over a year now and share living quarters. We split finances and don’t make plans without checking with the other. We celebrate all holidays together, buy joint gifts, etc. But just a few moments ago I mentioned seeing a friend and her fiancee this up-coming weekend and he snipped and made a comment about there “being a lot of marriage talk” lately. Meaning that we spent the weekend with his family and his nephews asked when we were getting married and have gotten into the habit of calling me “Aunt” (they are under 6). Also, friends and family have started to ask when to expect a ring.

    We’re broke. I just finished graduate school, he is in the middle of graduate school. We both have on own debt. But I’ve never been the girl that wants the standard nor expects the tradition. I like breaking tradition and I don’t need (nor want) a diamond. I just want what you said, for us to openly and publicly commit and declare our love. I want a little bit of what any little girl dreams of.

    He says it’s not even on his radar now. And that’s okay, but it’s on my for the future. And we talk and I know he sees us as being together for the long haul. I just don’t like being told that “there is a lot of talk about marriage lately” when I’m in the kitchen, preparing food for tomorrow, washing the kitchen floor and after I’ve cleaned his bathroom. Seems like he has little incentive and is getting the milk for free.

    Thanks Heather, for saying what I could never get the courage to say on my blog. I can only hope writing gives me such grace.

  • Cori

    I’ve always thought men worrying about some financial goal was a bit silly. Say you finally landed your dream job and NOW you can finally get married. Does that mean you have to get a divorce if there’s a layoff? It will happen though. When you find the right person, it all works out in the end. Hope he doesn’t keep you waiting much longer.

  • Amy

    I heart you, girl. You’re not alone out there and when it does happen (because it will), I can’t wait to read about it here.

  • When I read things like this I understand, but I also wonder how much, as women, we consider the “why.”

    Why does a ring, or a question that you both already know the answer to, validate your relationship or your love?

    I know you’re not saying “I need this or I don’t believe he loves me” but there has to be a reason why it stings, right? I just think we’ve been force fed a lot of crap about the way things are supposed to be without a whole lot of understanding why.

    And men, bless them, have no concept of rings or engagements or weddings because it makes no logical sense. They haven’t been inundated with it since they were children and really… if you both had decided last week you were going to have pizza for dinner on Tuesday, would you really expect him to ask again on Monday if you wanted pizza on Tuesday? Their brains just can’t comprehend that kind of female-logic.

    Hoping you get whatever makes you happy though!

  • Lori

    Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for years, but this is my first (maybe second?) comment. Anyway, have you heard of http://www.diamondnexuslabs.com/? Way more affordable and certainly guaranteed to be more ethical than many mainstream jewelry stores. That being said, I too am waiting for a ring. Here’s to us receiving one soon!

  • L.


    This is the first time I’ve commented. What you wrote really resonates with me. I just had to de-lurk!

    I have been with my boyfriend for 5.5 years. We did long distance for about 1.5 years (LONG distance…meaning he’s Aussie). I ended up moving down under and becoming a resident. Nothing was coerced – I loved him and I wanted us to be together. If I hadn’t moved, he would have moved to me. And, I’m happy here.

    I know I shouldn’t compare myself with anyone else, but it’s been difficult to watch other couples get engaged, one by one, over the last couple of years. I’m trying not to be jealous – everyone’s relationship is different. Heck, 50% of my friends might end up separating.

    But the other part of me thinks, isn’t it time for a gesture? We have talked – we communicate about what we want. I guess the problem is that there is one tiny old fashioned part of me that won’t allow me to propose to him. I know I could, but that’s not what I want. If he wants to get married, which he says he does, why not? What’s the big waiting game for?

    I think he has his own timeline in his mind – and I’m trying to respect it. (Ahem…this is after he told me, in all seriousness, that our engagement will come after getting airconditioning and replacing the broken TV. Glad we have priorities.) We have saved for and acquired both of these things. And, no engagement.

    Like you, I am happy. I try to think to myself: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Why do I want that extra commitment of an engagement? I don’t need marriage for babies, nor am I even ready for babies. I’m trying not to compare myself with others. But it aches to feel this way. It aches to know that people at work actually feel sorry for me (yes, they have said so to my face…ouch).

    I guess my guy isn’t moving forward because he isn’t wanting to either. And, on some level, I do feel a bit foolish. Because I’m playing wifey, packing lunches…and not to earn some stupid ring, but because I love him. But deep down, I do worry that he has nothing up his sleeve. Maybe I’m waiting for something that will never happen, and 5 more years will pass. Then I’ll be committed times ten, and what will I do then? I won’t love him any less, but I will still be at a standstill. Would I compromise what I want? Should I even worry about this? It’s so confusing.

    Anyway, that’s all. I just wanted to sympathize/vent and tell you that I’m completely in the same boat. And I’m getting seasick!

  • Rebecca

    You’re a great writer. Actually, to be honest, you’re one of the only two relationship bloggers I’ve ever been able to stand, much less really enjoy reading (thesmitten was the other).

    I hope you know (it’s obvious from the comments) that your writing has found a lot of appreciation and support. You are very talented.

    Thank you for being around. I don’t have great words of advice for this situation, but I’m glad you know your priorities and I’m grateful that you’ve chosen to share.

  • Rebecca

    Wow did your post ever hit home. I believe the phrase is “eerily familiar”. I trust you have already told him the things you’ve posted. That you feel a little selfish for wanting it…but still want it. Its important that he know how you feel too. Afterall isn’t it a little selfish for him not to want it now and only his feelings are being considered? When I had that conversation with Derek (my now fiance) I actually got some comfort back not in the form of a proposal but a very clear answer that he did want to be with me forever he just never saw himself being married….ever. But he wanted to be with me and knew I wanted to be married and he would get there. It took another two years and it wasn’t a romantic proposal but it was all him. Its going to be just over two years of being engaged by the time we get married and 9 years of being together but you know what its okay. I’ve discovered that boy time and girl time are are two completely different schedules. Derek has been worth waiting for but his assurances in how he felt about us and me made it easier.

    Good luck!

  • melissa

    I pushed and I whined and I asked why he wasn’t doing it yet and then he did it. He just handed it to me. I hesitated to tell anyone that I was engaged for over a day because they’d ask me how he did it. Well, he just handed it to me. I wish I would have let it be and seen what he would have done on his own. I in no way think that this is what you are doing. I just wanted to share my own engagement related sting. Your feelings reminded me of my own.

  • reading this I found myself cringing and thinking “please GOD don’t let her be attached by the trolls for expressing her feelings!” because it doesn’t sound, to me at least, like you are miserable or that you are complaining

    love that you are so honest about what you are feeling in this situation and it is one I am familiar with – excited for others but what about ME? you have every right to want to be excited about something for you because yes, no matter how much love is involved, dog poo gets old

  • You know what surprises me most? (Though it shouldn’t). You are such an empowered, almost-feminist woman that the act of getting engaged should be trivial and that makes you brave to even admit this stinging feeling. But I have been exactly where you are and I completely get it. I get that you want him to “do something!” to make it seem… more official, perhaps?

    It might help to think of it less as Man Pride and more of it as him wanting things to be just perfect. It’s maybe less hesitation on his part about the entire situation than it is him wanting to make you happy. Perhaps if you let him know (in your gentle and subtle way) that you don’t require the “perfect” engagement, you just want him to publicly admit to wanting you foreverandeveramen, maybe he will realize that his idea of the right timing is not necessarily what will make you happy. Just a thought.

    Also, one other thing. About school, it does suck the life out of you and it may be costing him more than you realize to pretend he’s okay with all the stress. Believe me, when he’s done, he will be so excited and relieved and it will change the dynamic between you two and you will both be happier than you were at the beginning because you will have achieved that together. Just trust and hold on. You’ll get there and it will be completely worth it.

  • laure

    May I ask why you feel the need to have these labels attached to your relationship? You’ve said that you’re not in a rush to be married, just to be engaged. Is it because of the way friends/family push you into being married? I only ask because I have been with my (heterosexual) partner/boyfriend for about 8 years now, and we aren’t married, nor do we have plans to (unless we have kids, which will of course raise the topic again if we’re living in the US). Our parents asked for a few years when we would be getting married, and have since accepted that our commitment is just as strong as those with a piece of paper. It used to bother me, but I’ve realized that marriage just doesn’t matter to me. Whenever someone asks why we aren’t married, my response is that marriage doesn’t bring anything that I don’t already have. Maybe it’s because we’ve lived abroad for several years, and the married vs not divide isn’t as strong or as important in many other parts of the world. I just don’t take as sacred an institution that historically was no more than an economic agreement, excludes many people who are my relationship models, or one that the same people who speak loudest for its maintenance are the ones who demonstrate how outdated it is (through affairs, multiple marriages…)

    On a lighter note – do your thighs and shoulders get much larger when you do the jillian michaels workouts? i did the shred last year, and swear that i actually went up a jeans size and got man-shoulders. i’m giving it another shot, but am i the only one who’s had this experience?

  • ligniliz

    Fish, beautiful and honest writing–thank you.

    (Possibly a candidate for favorite posts?)

    Obviously it resounds with a lot of us, though for me, the last two paragraphs describe the current state of affairs in my marriage. The proposal was a surprise–I didn’t want a ring and wasn’t even sure I wanted to be married. But the day I wavered in my resolve, the boy went ring shopping. Three months later and we were engaged. You have to hand it to him: that’s pretty strong work for a generally indecisive man, but I digress.

    Almost five years later, I’m a resident’s wife. I knew this would come to pass when I accepted his proposal. I know he loves me dearly. But 70+ hour work weeks with a pager going off at all hours of the night doesn’t leave much room for me in his life. So I’m the supporting actress, the maid, the chef, the sugarmomma. There have been many nights when I have deeply felt the reality of married life, mourning the lack of romance and the lost vision of shared dreams. But when he comes home, I put on my big girl pants and get over it so we can enjoy the few waking moments that we do have together; there’s no use wasting time to complain.

    I guess what I’m saying is that your current agony over engagement might be good preparation for those inevitable marital storms down the road. Because if you have trust and solidarity and open communication (which it sounds like you do) it will get you through anything. Including pressure and probing questions from well-meaning friends, colleagues and parents.

    And I feel you there, too: there’s been a noticeable uptick in reproductive inquiries around here lately! We have a “party line” to handle interrogation: “Decision has been deferred until the end of residency.” We’ll have to come up with another one in 18 months. :) Maybe devising a party line with the DL will help in the meantime? It sounds like uncertainty is a big part of the equation, and that way you’d have a short-term plan in support of the long-term plan. And it just might buy the DL the time he needs to conquer his man pride and surprise you with his ingenuity…

    Good luck! (And keep up the heartfelt writing! :)

  • E


    I was in similar shoes once. I let my boyfriend move in, even though I swore up and down that I wanted to be engaged first. We were happy at first, but eventually it became clear that it wasn’t meant to be and I feel lucky that I didn’t get engaged or married to the wrong person.

    Now, I am with THE most wonderful guy, and for the first time in my life, I think that getting married to him is secondary to us being together and being happy. If he said he never wanted to get married, it would disappoint me greatly, but given that I am the happiest I have ever been, I would acquiesce.

    The thing is, Heather, he would never ask me to give up being married if it were important to me. He might act slowly, and be cautious, but he loves me and wants to make me happy as much as I want him to be. And that’s how I know that he’s the guy for me.

    Give DL some time. He’ll come around. And if he doesn’t – and if he doesn’t realize what’s hurting you and/or want to do anything about it, that’s all the information you need.

    Having said that – he sounds great!! I have faith!! And I can’t wait to hear more about your bicycle-adventures.



  • Nancy

    Longtime reader, first time commenting.

    Heather, You have gotten me steaming to the point of revealing myself! *smh*

    Picture this, my intended and i are together 7 years! Two physically together, 5 years long distance. (Jamaica and US hello?) We are madly in love. (benefits of LD, absence makes the heart grow fonder :)

    I am officially going mad and his stubborn self won’t ditch the MAN PRIDE and just do the damn thing already! I have proposed twice…one jokingly and one as serious as heart attack, he said yes both times and cited that it his ‘job’. (Oh my word!) Then proceeded to tell me he wants to be financially stable first! Give me strength dear god.

    Why this man cannot see i just want to be with him and be married to him? I am beyond hurt, i’m defeated. my only requirement to him was to ask my dad before proposing, is he THAT afraid of my dad? My dad wouldn’t hurt a fly!

    I have been the most patient little elf and this gentle giant won’t MAN up! Enough with it already! What’s up with all this internal pressure on himself when i just want to be with him and be married at that?

    P.S. I am rational and all his reasonings makes sense. We talk/discussed until the topic is exhausted. His latest excuse is to save some more. WTH? I told him this year I expire and its either do or die. I prefer to DO! Oh well, we will see!

    On an end note… Heather, you are Marvelous! Love a honest and true individual!

  • Yogajunkie

    Hi Heather (and all those who have commented)

    Thank you so much for sharing this. For the longest time, I have been thinking about this issue over and over again. I hate that I’ve become so obsessed about being engaged but I know exactly what you mean by ‘the sting’. I’ve fought with my boyfriend of 8 years, cred and given ultimatums. I’m not proud of it but somehow I can’t seem to stop myself. I never thought I’d behave in this way, but there you go! I just need some sign to know and to believe that this relationship is it!

    Anyway, thanks for sharing. Even though my state hasn’t changed, I am glad to know that I’m not all alone!

  • Frith

    Sorry you’re feeling envious – that’s the worst, especially when all signs tell you how lucky you are. Have you flat-out told him you don’t want a ring? I got married three weeks after having that very conversation. Sure, I missed out on seeing how he would have proposed, but the expediting of the whole process and the pride of not seeing thousands of wasted dollars whenever I look down at my simple wedding band more than compensate.

  • Darin

    In the 50+ posts that I have seen here, I believe that I am the only male that has left a comment so I am pretty sure my perspective will differ.

    My main feeling on reading your post as well as the other comments is: When did love become not enough? I really have trouble understanding why that is not enough when you claim that tradition, ring, etc. don’t mean anything.

    I really believe that love conquers all. I think that so many social factors (family, friends, etc) get in the way of the happiness of two people. It wears on them and makes them make decisions they are not ready to in order to appease others.

    My opinion, enjoy the love that you are in. Don’t let it be marred by what others expect. Embrace it for what it is and remember that those that experience true love are the lucky few.

  • Oof. I hear you. I have dating my boyfriend for four years, with no end in sight. WHY do we leave the BOYS in charge of proposing?! Who’s brilliant idea was THIS?? Hmph.

  • JMLC

    Oh lady do I understand! I was with my (now) husband for 6 1/2 years before we got engaged….and I HAD the ring (it was a family ring). His reasons were the same- wanted me to be out of grad school, wanted himself to be more out of debt. Finally we talked about it (again) and I pointed out that being engaged would change none of that AND it would make me so, so much happier than I was, as silly as that felt.

    Good luck- hang in there- I ended up with a very memorable surprise proposal so I hope the same happens for you!

  • sde


    He has the cow (albeit a lovely one) and no longer needs to buy the milk. And he’s putting his feelings in front of yours. He’s happy with the way things are – it doesn’t seem to matter that you’re not. Even if you are happy in the relationship. And now it’s too late to set an ultimatum. It won’t work. Start to do more w/o him – be more independent and never ever have a joint acct with someone that won’t propose. It’s just foolish. At this rate, he’ll never marry you. Moo

  • Anonymous


    I hear you. I really do. But it’s what I want – forward progress. And just because it’s not what you want doesn’t make it unreasonable to ask for. Love is only enough if that’s all both people want. I want love AND the public commitment. I do. Does that make me foolish or any less appreciative of love? No. It just means I have different expectations than you do. And the biggest difference between him and you is that from the moment we met, he wanted it, too. The love, the marriage. All of it. And that’s what I built my expectations around. It’s only normal that I’d feel disappointed when they didn’t come to fruition.

  • sarah g

    People are mean, people always think they know what advice to give. Its your experience, your heart and your relationship. You know you’ll get engaged; I knew too. It wasnt that, it was, “why are you waiting”? I get it. I know it. I have no advice. It sucks hard core, and I don’t get why boys do that sometimes. They have their reasons, and yeah yeah they make sense, but come on!

    So. I get ya. You’re normal. You feel how Ithink you should and only you can get through this, and you both know how you feel and it will happen.

    It will be beautiful and you will love it. And years from now, tell the story with a roll of your eyes, of how long he waited, and he’ll nod, agree and say “i dont know why i had to be so ‘logical’. Or something .. :)

  • Sarah

    I am surprised you have a joint account with someone you are not married to. I think it’s possible you are giving too much of yourself without the forward progress on his part.

  • L

    This is why I truly believe moving in together is a big mistake. The woman ends up playing housewife, and the guy has no incentive to get hitched. You’re living like you’re married . . but you’re not. And even when I’ve seen couples get married after living together, the excitement is gone. What is there to look forward to other than the name change and the word “married”? It would worry me, too, that he isn’t excited to make you officially “his”. I’m not coming at this from an “I’m right” perspective, but rather, “from what I’ve observed throughout my 30 years, marriage before move-ins is the way to go”. If you can learn something by living with someone that would make or break a marriage, how committed were you in the first place? Marriage is hard, a daily dying to self and compromise, rewarded by an ever-deepening love for those who are fully committed for life. Moving in together inserts somewhat of an insecurity or lack of commitment that is often hard to shake, even if a ring does eventually come.

  • Red


    Bwahahahaha. I’m using that.

    My heart just hurts for you – I’ve been in a similar situation. We actually added a pregnancy into the whole matter…. (I would highly discourage that, btw -STRESS!) The good news is, we DID get married and I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I like saying “my husband” when referring to him, and I introduce myself as his wife before I state my name to his friends/clients. My sister thinks it’s old fashioned and degrading – I think it’s wonderful. I waited 30 years to be someone’s wife, so as much as I love her… she can suck it on this one.

    Big hug to you.((()))

  • Sarah

    I was so there with you. We dated for 2 years, and then broke up because of his commitment issues. When we got back together, he told me that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. After a few months, I moved in. And waited. And waited. Every birthday, holiday, random Saturday date night, I waited for the proposal. Finally, it did come. I understand where you are, and wouldn’t want to return there for anything in the world.

  • mn

    The exact same thing happened to me. We were together 4.5 years, and we agreed we wanted to get married… and then nothing. For TWO MORE YEARS. First there were the occasional discussions. Then, a monthly discussion. Every time he said he wanted to get married, but he just didn’t know why he wasn’t ready. I said “I don’t need a diamond!” I said “Can I propose to you?” (answer: no). I said “I don’t need a wedding.” Time marched on and I got really, really sad. The whole time, not one piece of me wanted to break it off or didn’t want to marry him. That made it harder — I felt trapped because I knew didn’t want to leave and I loved him and wanted it to be official. I loved him so much and knew him so well, I knew he would get there some day. I just didn’t realize HOW LONG. My god! Then, after 1.5 years, I got really sad because I couldn’t think of a happy ending until he finally just did it, and I actually thought of ending it. It came down to “how can you love me so much and not choose me officially, for the world to see?” And I think he finally realized that I was thinking of ending it. And so we looked at rings (his insistence). And then… four months passed. And then.. .finally… out of nowhere… it came. And we got married last year. And we are so happy. And the years of waiting have not taken their toll; now I’m not bitter or angry that I had to wait because at the end of the day, we are together, and we were together during that time — end result is what we both wanted. And I feel vindicated, because I was right that he would get there one day. And I know (as I knew in my heart then) he didn’t not love me or not choose me all that time — he was dealing with his “Man Pride” as you call it. And so while I don’t necessarily hold myself up as an example or recommend that you wait that long — because we know these men are their own creatures — know that it can turn out well. Hope this one story helps.

  • Alyssa (The 40 year-old)

    can only echo what others have said; that telling how you feel (and that last paragraph puts it so perfectly!) is the way to go. Many men think that circumstances have to be “perfect” before they propose, and have NO IDEA how their delays make us feel.

  • This is totally unrelated. I know.

    But can I please tell you how much I loved the fact you cited a LHotP episode in this post? ALMANZO?!?! Priceless.

    And at the risk of sounding irritatingly cliche, the ring will come. It will.

  • Betsey

    I’m in a very similar situation, just not as far along as you are. My biggest fear is being where you are right now in a year. My boyfriend just FINALLY finished school in December and has a great job lined up that starts in June. In the mean time he has started graduate school and will continue to pursue a graduate degree once he is working as his new job will pay for it. He is making so many smart moves to give us a brighter future, I couldn’t be more supportive of these decisions. He recently moved into my house and it has gone better than I ever could have hoped for. It’s all finally coming together and I would like to think that once he starts working and saving (no debt on either of our parts)that the engagement would come sometime in the next year. We know we want to be together, we know what kind of wedding we want, we know that within the next five years we’d like to sell my townhouse and buy a real house, all of the future stuff has been discussed with the exception of when will get engaged. I am afraid to bring it up that specifically, not because I’m afraid of his answer, but more so because I want to be surprised by it. I have told him that I want to know nothing about it, if he wants to know what kind of ring I would like, my friends know what I like and what I don’t, I want to have as little to do with it as possible. But even though I’m doing it to myself, it doesn’t make the fear of being in your situation go away.

  • missy

    I was wondering about this very topic actually. In bits and pieces in your writting I was seeing all of the places that you compromised (your life is ready for marriage now. Biologically now is a good time for kids for you etc)and zero of his. You’re gambling a lot that this proposal will come through and he’s gambling…nothing. I don’t hear you talking about how his plans have changed or his life trajectory has altered or how his ability to have a different partner and kids are at risk. Yours are. That’s a lot of power to give to another person. That’s I’m sure in part why you’re so nervous about this engagement thing. It’s public proof of his committment to match his words. I kept hoping that their were compromises on his side that you simply weren’t writing about. Still do.

    He needs to learn to flex his schedule, especially if you guys are as in agreement as you say about your long term plans. That’s good practice for marriage when he’s going to have to deal with things that are far less than perfect. And things that are 100% about making you feel better. I think for many of us here that’s why red flags are starting to appear on the field. He’s 100% comfortable and you’re not and he’s fine with that.

    The question now is how long will it be okay with you that his pride comes before your feelings? I think you might feel more in control (and you should be in control of your own destiny!!) if you said listen: I hear you when you said you want time to get your things in order, “manpride” or whatever. However, equally this is really important to me. My feelings are as important to this relationship as your pride. So where is the compromise here? What do you think is a reasonable amount of time to get the space you need? Are you willing to lose me over this?

    See if he gives you a firm answer and if that answer is one you can agree to. If he mentions a time period 3 month, 6 months, a year and you can live with it, then say okay by the end of the agreed upon period whether or not things are fully “perfect” your feelings come first. You both agree that is the drop dead to move forward or break up. It might help get him over his perfectionist streak about this part of his life and set some internal timelines for action. You, in turn, would feel better knowing that the uncertainty has an agreed upon end.

    If he can’t give you a reasonable timeframe to get what he needs, especially in light of the strenght of your feelings, danger Will Rogers. You have a lot on the line here, and not just your heart. You should then take back control of your own life path and set your own internal deadline for the drop dead move forward date. Tell him and mean it. If time hits whatever you decide is your internal breaking point without a ring then the relationship isn’t the perfect you think and he’s not as committed as he’s stating. On some level he’s not there yet. That’s his issue; don’t make it yours. Decide what is reasonable for you and how long you’re willing to wait. There has to be a compromise between forcing him into engagement and letting him get to have 100% control. That’s not healthy and that’s not the partnership I’m sure you’re going for. Good luck!!!

  • Anonymous

    Missy, all of those things which need to be said have been said. I truly appreciate the concern, but I’m not in the relationship passenger seat here.

  • Heather,

    A year ago almost to the date I could have written this same post. My boyfriend and I were living together, raising pets, cooking, cleaning, etc all the things a married couple does without the commitment. And I waited…I explained to him about the fact that it was important to me to be engaged. I didn’t need/want the big diamond or the big romantic proposal I wanted to be engaged so like you there was forward motion and I could start planning. Then his sister got engaged on Valentine’s Day which didn’t help.

    I completely understand your frustration and why it bothers you and your feelings are fair because they are your feelings. Hopefully things will move forward for you soon. In the meantime venting helps. :-)

  • nseanac

    I just moved in with my boyfriend of two years. He has been married twice already (once for an accidental pregnancy and once for reasons that make no sense (the more he tells me the less I understand)) and has made it clear that he does not want to get married again. He said he is not going anywhere and will never leave me but thinks he is just not good at the whole marriage thing. I am usually totally fine with this, until a bit of PMS kicks in and I read something like you have posted and I realize that I will never have that experience to look forward to.

    Chin up! There is a lot to look forward to.

  • Amber

    One thing my now husband said to me was that when people asked to see my ring, it would make him feel like his “manhood” was on display. I get that, because that’s the first thing people say to the woman when news of engagement/marriage is shared, “Let me see the ring!” I’m not saying it’s the right way to feel, but just another perspective. He did eventually propose (or “buy the cow” for sde, what a jerk) and we just got married in January. Being engaged actually did take a lot of pressure off because society finds you more “legitimate.”

  • Let me throw my hat into the ring with another comment.

    I’ve also been there. Wanting the engagement, wondering what was happening, not needing a big fuss – but just wanting to say Yes. This is It. I Choose You. And you, you choose me. – And I fought with my feelings around it.

    Heck, as a 29 year old woman, should I really even be wanting to get married? Isn’t it outdated and antiquated and all the rest? And hey, we had already been together for over four years . We had bought our first place together, had shared finances, had travelled the world, had lived together for almost three years… We were already sharing our lives together. Why did I want to sign a piece of paper so that I was recognized as a partnership by law?

    But there it was, in the back of my mind – a little niggle.

    I only brought it up once – this need for this engagement, that just wasn’t forthcoming. Once, when a friend got engaged, that had been together with her now husband for much less time. Once, when he caught me crying in secret after expressing how happy I was for her only a few minutes earlier on the phone. I was caught, and it all tumbled out.

    Sure, we had talked about marriage and kids and sharing together in the rest of our lives oodles of time. But the W and E words – wedding and engagement – were somehow the elephants in the room.

    He had all the same reasons. We were broke, he wanted to do it right, he wanted to get me a ring, and all the rest. I also protested that I didn’t care about any of it. He was still steadfast – sure in this, his need to mark this journey in our lives with a way that resonated with him.

    But it still rankled. And hurt. And felt like that maybe he thought the magic had gone… Because surely if he was as in love with me as he used to be, that he wouldn’t, no, couldn’t wait a second longer to tell me he wanted to not just spend the rest of his life with me, but to marry me?

    To let the whole world (okay, maybe just the government of Canada,) know that we chose each other? And of course, there are those out there that say it shouldn’t matter. Marriage shouldn’t matter. You already have what you have. But you know what? Screw the naysayers. Or the uber-feminists. It’s okay to feel this. It’s okay to want to call him your husband.

    And I have to tell you – now that I am on the other side – and just six months in – it feels different. Marriage. In this most wonderfully, simple, absolutely unexplainable way. It feels joyous. Content. Just….. right.

    He is my life partner. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to celebrate that. With wanting to formalize it, and have a ceremony, no matter what kind.

    Thinking of you.

  • Woman. Read “Why Men Marry Bitches.” Move out, even though it will hurt financially and emotionally. You were clear about what you wanted, he had other ideas, and neither one of them came true. The temporary pain is worth making him get it in gear.

  • Starlene

    My, my. I really did think I was alone in this. So glad it isn’t just me (not that it changes things but…). We’ve been together 3 years. Lived together for 1. I was married at 23, have two kids (19 & 22), divorced at 28. He’s never been married and never has had a desire. I feel like an idiot for even wanting to go there again (especially after failing pretty miserably the first time!). He says he doesn’t understand why it makes a difference. Why that piece of paper makes our love any more valid than anyone elses. He says he already feels that I am his wife. But you know what? I’m not. And that breaks my heart.

    My best friend met her guy after we started dating. I was just the maid of honor in her wedding in October. His best friend met his girl at the same time we met and he was the officiant at their wedding in September of 2008. I know it isn’t a competition but it’s really important to me. It feels like rejection.

    Now, let me close by saying this. We are really a great couple. We are so happy together. We are an amazing team. Same beliefs, same goals, same dreams. We work towards making our life and the lives of the others we love, better. I’m not miserable. I’m in love.

  • Lori

    Excuses are just that. It’s real simple (and inexpensive) to go out and buy a plain jane engagement band. So the issue of paying cash can be overcome. Also, I understand you both are working extremely hard to lessen your debt- but I guess I want to say if- maybe he needs to put his pride and schedule aside and make his woman happy. And put a ring on it. Even if he has to buy it on credit. There’s no limit on how long you can be engaged either. And you can always replace the ring if you find yourselves in a better financial position later in life. Like in 5 years when you get married and start having bebes…

  • Molly

    Missy put it quite well. I have to say that I got the sense that you haven’t been truly happy for awhile. Actually, I have been kind of waiting for you to post this. While you say that you’re not in the relationship passenger seat here, you do talk about what you have had to give up and take on (his dog duties), what you miss (single life in NYC), but nothing about what he has given up (besides all his time for school). Instead you’re eagerly cooking and helping him emotionally and financially through school. You say you’re happy but the entry before this you talked about how bored you were. And I got the sense that this “boredom” had many different meanings to it.

    You say you don’t need to ring and can wait to get married. You really just want the proposal so you can vocally tell the world that you’re getting married in 5 years from now, or however long it takes? You really don’t want the physical symbol of a ring so that others know that you were “chosen”? Would you really be happy if he said ‘I have no ring but let’s set a date to get married 5 years from now!’…??

    My boyfriend of over a year is moving in a couple months. I am nervous because I am afraid that he’ll get comfortable playing house and won’t feel the need to officially “choose me”. We’ve had many, many discussions about this and gasp! he wants to be financially secure before we take the plunge. That’s a common theme here, I see. However, I am soon to be 33 years old and I am ready to progress with my life (re: kids). I’ve told him that if it’s not what he wants sooner rather than later, then I need to find someone who will choose me no matter what. I have a feeling I am going to have to set a deadline.

    I just wanted to let you know how it’s coming across to your readers (or some of us), even if you believe it or not. Don’t settle.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, sigh. I’m going to try not to sound defensive about this, because that will get me nowhere. But I simply cannot account for nor understand what you (or Missy or anyone else) perceive to be my unhappiness – as I have never been happier in a relationship ever. Yes, I am frustrated that we aren’t engaged. Yes, I was bored on Sunday because he was doing school work and I was stuck without money (some website *ahem* was late in paying me this month) or plans. But who HASN’T been bored? Jeez, louise. It’s not a commentary on my life!

    Also, for the record,

    1. I’ve never once said or implied that I missed my single days. New York and my friends? Hell yeah. But being single? Not one second.

    2. I’m not supporting him financially. I have never said as much, nor implied it.

    3. I said I don’t need a diamond ring. I’d like a simple ring. A band.

    4. I am not settling.

    And this is not directed at you, but I am a little bit frustrated that so much projection is going on, reading between the lines where no subtext exists. Folks sounding so… authoritative about a relationship you only have a few paragraphs of information on. It is entirely possible to be happy and be frustrated with the situation you’re in. I suppose I opened myself up to all kinds of armchair psychology by writing about this. But as much as I truly appreciate the solidarity, I do not appreciate so much presumption. This is why I don’t share as much as I used to. The tendency of some commenters to underestimate my ability to direct my life and to condescend to me is really unpalatable.

  • Have you considered Leap Yearing it and proposing to him? Ain’t nothing wrong with a forward thinkin’ girl putting a little momentum into the relationship. Although, if he’s a blog reader, which I assume he is, he knows.

    I married my husband after three months of knowing each other. If you know it’s right, and you do, just do it. He didn’t get down one one knee … we talked about it in bed and I made him ask. Oh, and money? My engagement ring has three cubic zirconia that make up mickey mouse ears (bought on a trip to Disneyland, where I actually DID make him get down on one knee in the jewelry store) and our bands cost a combined total of $199 at Sears. I’m a journalist; he’s a violin teacher. We are broke, but happy. We can’t even afford to move out of our respective tiny places and in with each other yet, so it’s like having two homes. And we got married on a Tuesday at the county recorder’s office.

    Love doesn’t cost anything. If everybody waited until they had “enough” money to get married, everybody would be single. It’s not about the status, it’s about building the life together. Just do it.

  • Jamie


    Love this post and your courage to write out loud the feelings most women go through at some point, but are not supposed to have. I hate how women seem weak for wanting to get married. And how you are getting flamed and condescended to because of it. When I went through this – with my now husband of 6 months – the hardest part was that he wanted and talked about marriage alot. Until I did, then I think it became real and a bit scary to him. Suddenly I was being pushy, when he had been the one to declare his marriage intents to me from 3 months into the relationship. Suddenly he needed more time to be ready. That was very hurtful to me. I think guys often say things about marriage not realizing how serious women take them. Not that they don’t mean them, guys just don’t understand how much to heart we take marriage talk and how we take that to mean it is imminent. Like another commenter said – guy time and girl time are different. Your feelings are entirely justified, don’t feel bad about it. It helped me to think that the wait would be worth a healthy marriage. I think he is entirely planning to marry you and is a stand up guy. Just make sure you have some sort of limit to the waiting that you are okay with. So glad you are writing from the heart again.

  • shannon

    We all know you appreciate and value your readers. Much like soap-watchers become involved in their characters storylines, we all start to care about the bloggers we follow and what happens to them. I can see why some of these comments would be upsetting and make you shy away from writing what you really feel. Can you turn comments off individual posts? I’d hate to see you censor your thoughts or creativity in your own space.

  • lawyerchik1

    Tell him you want a post-it.

  • Kristen


    I just read your last comment and I wanted to let you know that there are many of us who love your writing and your willingness to share, and we DON’T pass judgment (what is wrong with people anyway – it’s so rude) but also don’t generally comment, either. It’s your life. You get to feel how you feel and post what you post and please don’t let the myopic views of a few ignorant strangers make you feel defensive or frustrated.

    I realize that’s a tall order so I would understand if you also just closed comments sometimes so you could say your piece and not have the Interweb dweebs ding you for it. Don’t know if your contract with an *ahem* certain website will allow it, but it seems to work for the other Heather. :) I think you’re great and if it helps, I’m in a similar situation as described in your post but have not moved in or started joint accounts, etc., so I’m glad you’re not kicking yourself over those decisions. Man-time appears to be a difficult thing for those of us who aren’t on it to grasp!

  • D

    I really like the honesty of your writing, and completely understand how you can both love and be frustrated with something at the same time (not a relationship thing for me, more of a job thing).

    Thanks for sharing Fish! And just know that for every assuming you’re not happy comment posted, there are just as many readers (like myself) who appreciate you sharing and feel no need to tell you how you’re feeling.

  • CrystalG


    I have been living with my guy for over 10 years. A year or two into it I was hinting and hinting (Read pressuring) for an engagement. I got it. He surprised me with a small but very nice ring. Yeah! for forward progress… but then it stopped right there.

    We are still not married. We have since bought a house (6 years ago), we live like an old married couple but without the married part. I sometimes wonder if I had let him go at his own pace, let him do it when he wanted it, it could have been different. Probably not, but who knows. Maybe if I had let him get excited about it at his own pace…. who knows.

    Just wanted to give a slightly different view on how things can go. We love each other, but I guess the married part doesn’t mean as much to him as it does to me. Am I hurt by that? Yep. But is the marriage part more important to me than he is? I guess not since I am still here. But I feel like he doesn’t care enough to make it “legal” sometimes. So I know how you feel.

  • Bridget

    I started reading your blog for fun after the NYT “expose” :-) and never felt prompted to write until now. I am 40ish and feel a bit big- sistery to you after reading this. My story is: married after college to love of my life, two adorable kids, two high-flying careers, moved to NYC, bought a second home, watched kids grow to teens. Not bad, eh? I remember being very focused on forward momentum. “have to, should” Then, he flipped out, had affair with family friend, divorced, broke… whoah. Never ever could have imagined. I am now dating someone I adore and could see being with forever but i mostly concentrate on being a good and true person, a good partner, a strong individual. I am not afraid of commitment but I am also not putting emphasis on when any of this formally happens. I know easy for me to say but trust me that there are curve balls. You are with a man you love and who clearly loves you. Live. Love.

  • Ashley

    Wow. Reading this post was like a flashback for me! I was in exactly the same spot several months ago: Already living with my own Dork Lord, already knowing we were going to get married, have kids, the whole shabang. But he dragged his feet non-stop and, for no reason that I could see, just refused to ask. (As a side note, I also got to experience several “Crazy Jealous Like a Pathetic Stereotypical Chick Lit Cat Lady” moments of my own when a few acquaintances got engaged before I did.)

    I still don’t know what did it, but eventually I pointed out to him that I was going to need some input on the ring because I’m ridiculously picky; I rarely wear jewelry, so if I’m supposed to wear something 24/7, I’d better LOVE it. I ended up sending him links directly to the setting, the stone, and a local jeweler who could put them together. I think the fact that it was actually fairly cheap when he sat down and added it all up ($500 all together; moissanite ROCKS!), combined with the fact that I took out all of the guessing and legwork, convinced him to finally do it. I don’t know about your Dork Lord, but I’m pretty sure mine was intimidated by the guessing and the legwork. That idea got cemented over Christmas, when I found out that his mom hated the original ring his dad proposed to her with.

    I think the best (and really only) advice I can give is to try to stay optimistic. I know first-hand how much it sucks, but if you dwell on it enough, you’ll end up getting bitter about the whole thing, and you won’t be able to enjoy it when it actually happens. Keep your chin up! You know he loves you. To borrow from another poster, you just have to wait until boy-time catches up to girl-time. :-)

  • mn

    Good commentary on peoples’ need to condescend and snark anonymously on blogs: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2010/01/29/notes012910.DTL

  • anon

    I know the presumptions are annoying, but I’m glad you wrote this!! I totally know where you’re at…being happy with the person you love and feeling accepted but still having something that you want.

  • hls

    I’m sorry, Heather, but the tone of your last comment seems absurd given what you wrote about. Not only did you open yourself up to the arm chair psychology but you invited it in. And being huffy about the readers embracing your challenges, comparing them to their own struggles and offering input or advice isn’t really the way to get your readers to keep reading. I’ve been a reader – and a fan of your writing – for a number of years, but the annoyed and defensive version of you that has come out in these comments makes me want to stay away. If the topic is sensitive – which this clearly is – don’t write about it, or write about it close the comments, or write about it and ask people not to comment – but the way you’ve handled the comments you’ve received just seems silly.

  • Anonymous

    Fair enough. And like I said earlier, I love the solidarity and the sharing of circumstances and feelings. It’s incredibly validating to know that other people I respect feel the same way. I just sometimes have a very hard time with what sounds like know-it-all bossiness. I’m am truly sorry if I offended you. And it’s precisely the, if it’s a sensitive topic don’t write about it bit that’s the reason why I often don’t anymore. People feel entitled to their reactions, to have their say, often without consideration for the incompleteness of the information and yet don’t allow for any kInd of emotional response in return. If people talked to you the way strangers here sometimes do to me, you may be less in a hurry to rub my nose in it. Again, apologies for any offense.

  • Rachel

    Another long time reader… first time poster…

    When I met and fell in love with my ex-husband, I knew after two weeks of dating him that I wanted to marry him. He knew it too. He even said to me two weeks after we started dating, in a bar (sober), in front of all his friends, that he wanted to marry me. And so the long wait for the ‘inevitable’ engagement began.

    We moved in together after 18 months and finally, after 2.5 years of dating, he proposed. Did I push a little? Sure. Who wouldn’t when we had BOTH been talking about it since week two?!? But, we are divorced now. The marriage only lasted three years. And you know what? I think I knew that would happen when we got engaged. The feelings you have those first six months (even first year) of any relationship are SO wonderful, and fuzzy, and amazing, and all encompassing, and powerful… you cannot imagine life without that person. Things are said. Promises are made. Future child names are discussed. But then time goes on… you learn about each other and both sides may not take a step outside themselves to stop to think, ‘whoa… do I love this person? YES, but is this really the same thing I wanted as it was in the beginning?’

    I sometimes think that we (women and men) force the engagement/marriage issue because at some point, there seems to be no turning back. Is it because you love them so much? Or is it more: how could you walk away from someone you knew, WITHOUT A DOUBT, you wanted to marry after 2 weeks together?

    So, man pride aside, my COMPLETELY UNSOLICITED advice is to make sure you are wanting this engagement because your feelings for the DL are as true and as a pure as the FIRST moment you knew you wanted to spend your life with him. Please don’t want it because enough time has gone by and there seems to be no turning back… or worse, because the public needs to know… no matter how much you may love him (and I don’t doubt for a second that you do…).

    (And for the record, the tone of my post may seem negative and I really don’t mean it to be. I have NO regrets about my relationship with my ex husband. I am now in a wonderful relationship with a wonderful man. And once again, a month after dating my currant beau, I knew I wanted to be with him forever… but this time, I choose to just be with him. Whatever that means.)

    I’m routing for ya Fish.

  • I’ve been there.. We had joint finances, I was a stay at home mom caring for the children(his, mine, and ours) and he was in no way rushing to marriage. I heard all the lines about milk for free, and if he respected you, he’d marry you.

    We were together 5 years before we got married. And it wasn’t horribly romantic. We got married for health insurance. After our quicky ceremony I realized that just having him stand up in front of a few friends and say he loves me forever(despite years and children) was all I needed. I have a plain silver band and was married in ugly pants but I’m happy that he “officially” said it. The being married doesn’t feel different at all because we lived as married for so long.

    So…all of that to say this: I understand. Its the shouting from the roof tops, the formal announcement of forever, the final step to begin the rest. I hope he gets his hiney in gear soon… Oh! and I SO don’t get male logic either.

  • Deb

    People will always be quick to give advice and to judge and to compare their lives to yours — it’s a human reaction, it makes us feel better about our own lives, it’s very hard to resist (especially online). And you’re correct — people will project. People in relationships will sound supportive of your relationship, single people will tell you to move out and move on with your life. The fact is that nobody really knows the details and . .. the truth of your situation, but you. Also, many many women — more than would like to admit, I’ll bet — have been in (something like) your situation. Sure, there are some men who fall all over themselves to propose and get engaged, but many more are fearful, for a whole variety of reasons. Before I was with my boyfriend (now husband), I thought, ‘oh, I’ll never put up with that. If he doesn’t want to marry me, I’ll just leave. I won’t wait. I won’t talk him into it.’ But the reality is just not that simple. I predict it will all work out for you, as it has for so many of us. As it has for me. Personally, my only regret is waiting so long (38) to try and get pregnant — that is a mistake, although that has worked out for us, too.

  • Ryian

    Wow, read all the comments…I can’t believe people think you’re unhappy. It actually made me laugh! I am glad my blog is private because I would have the EXACT same reaction you do. I also feel the same way you feel because it is exciting to think about the future together. Although, we don’t live together it is annoying for co-workers, family members to constantly ask: “when are you two getting married?” “Oh, you’re not engaged yet…” “where’s your ring?” I want to reply, “oh, weight watchers isn’t helping you either” Even though, it’s rude because it does sting when you see that facebook crap “engaged to…” or when you are the only unmarried couple in the circle! The best response is: “All my married friends are unhappy” which my boyfriend said when I bit the bullet and stated let’s just go to the courthouse. Men, they like to hold onto their “single” lives too :)

    Good luck! Loved the post!

  • Charlie

    I have two things to say, one for you & one for him. Honey, you’re in forever. What I mean is, you’ve already started spending forever together; you just didn’t have the party to kick it off. And for him, I understand your Man Pride. But if you know how important this is to the love in your life (and I’m assuming you must know even if you don’t want to know), why is it you cannot give this to her? She doesn’t want a ring. Maybe you want to give her one, but she doesn’t want one. So put your pride aside, my friend; get a ring in a gumball machine as a placeholder, get down on your knee and make your girlfriend happy. After all, what valid reason is there not to?

  • Ellen

    Wow, read all the comments…I can’t believe people think you’re unhappy. It actually made me laugh! I am glad my blog is private because I would have the EXACT same reaction you do. I also feel the same way you feel because it is exciting to think about the future together. Although, we don’t live together it is annoying for co-workers, family members to constantly ask: “when are you two getting married?” “Oh, you’re not engaged yet…” “where’s your ring?” I want to reply, “oh, weight watchers isn’t helping you either” Even though, it’s rude because it does sting when you see that facebook crap “engaged to…” or when you are the only unmarried couple in the circle! Men, they like to hold onto their “single” lives too :)

    Good luck! Loved the post!

    By the way, I moved from my friends too and I miss them all the time. To the haters: doesn’t mean she doesn’t love her boyfriend any less.

  • cl10

    a friend of mine dated a guy for 6 years, nearly 7, before he finally proposed. perhaps it was his ‘man pride’ but he was settled in his career, carried no debt (other than the house he bought and let her live in- his name only) and for whatever reason just wasn’t ready to do it…

    he finally proposed november 08, and they were married by august 09 and she was pregnant a month later.

    part of me wonders whether he wanted a wife, or a womb…

    i’m not judging and even suggesting this is what is going on in your scenario, but men work in mysterious ways and at their own pace… unfortunately “living like your married” without the official ring/ceremony tends to make them move slower…

  • kd

    You have a wonderful man who seems to love you for all that you are… and one of those things seems to be that you like to be in control. This is one area that he has the control over, so maybe you just need to sit back and let him have it. He clearly loves you and wants to be with you. Maybe he just wants you to stop pressing it so much- so that he can take the reigns and make it wonderful for you.

    I feel that so many women expect the ring right when they’re ready… and though you may be in love, you may not get to the same places at the same time. Take a step back and try to look at your situation as a whole- not just that you want the engagement… Life moves by way too fast to not enjoy all of it. Enjoy the “not knowing”- bc once the engagement comes, everything else FLIES by.

  • Anna

    Hi Fish, just wanted to say I second the opinion that other commenters have posted earlier on – maybe consider not allowing comments? I’ve been reading your blog for a long time now and I miss the really heartfelt, emotional posts. And when I read some of the posts I can sympathize as I’ve been in similar situations, sometimes I have no idea as I’ve never experienced some of the things that you have (for example, this post – none of my relationships have been this deep even though some of them have lasted quite a long time). I find that as a woman in her late-20′s (getting sooo close to 30!) that it really makes me reflect my own experiences and feelings when I read yours written down in this blog.

    Anyways, keep up the good work, and I hope you don’t feel too judged by a few (very vocal) people who feel like they must voice their opinions on a rather personal thoughts and feelings.

  • Paws4me

    Move out until you have a ring and a date. Also, he must ask your father

    for his blessing before he asks you to marry him. Good luck, Heather.

  • Anonymous

    HA! No way. My dad has no say in the matter! I’m sure he’d be more than happy to grant his blessing, but he’s not getting asked. I don’t work that way.

  • Okay, here’s the deal: I’m a little bit older than you are and say this with both authority and experience. MOST women I know have gone through this. I went through this. Men and women have super different concepts of engagement and marriage. For men, “girlfriend” means sexy, fun, happy. “Wife”. . . well, that’s serious. Somber. Gotta be a grownup.

    Most of the weddings I’ve attended were marriages engineered by women. Maybe all of them. Even the most romantic proposals came on the heels of quasi-ultimatums. It’s just the way it is. I have a really smart therapist who told me this. Marriage, weddings– woman thing.

    When I was in your shoes– in the best relationship with the best guy who had been divorced for twelve years and who just “didn’t think about marriage”, I thought I was going to die. I felt awful. If he loved me, why wasn’t he dreaming of our wedding day just the way I was? Why wasn’t he planning his proposal? He just wasn’t. He’s a man. Instead, he was thinking about the house we’d buy together,how to renovate the kitchen, what kind of interest rate we’d get. I had to jump in at that point and say that for me, co-homeownership = married.

    So we got married. No proposal, no ring, just a kind of business arrangement discussion. And then a kick-ass backyard wedding and a gorgeous dress for me, and now a beautiful, solid marriage.

    It’ll happen. And when it does, you won’t even care about how it happened.

    And this type of stuff: “May I ask why you feel the need to have these labels attached to your relationship?”

    BULLCRAP! You are an American women. We ALL feel this way, at least 99.999999% of us!

  • For the record, I didn’t read many of the other comments (there are a lot of them and I’m lazy), but I thought you did an exquisite job of expressing real feelings in this post. To me, you didn’t seem miserable at all. You seem happy and confident about your future, but still realistic about one of the struggles. Which is helpful to me because I’m on the top of the list of people who need reminders to be realistic about relationships.

  • I read this yesterday and appreciated an excellent post, but then, it sort of stuck in my head, turning around. Finally I realized that the reason was that I still hold a bit of a grudge against my husband (of 10 years…) for never actually proposing to me. We talked things through when I found out that I was going to have problems with a work visa when I finished school and we had had enough of the long-distance thing, so we decided to get married. At the time, I did ask him to propose all the same, but he just never got around to it. Suddenly, I had a ring, a wedding date, a guest list but no proposal and then it started to seem a bit pointless. I’ve talked it over with him since and he explained that he didn’t realize that it was such a big deal and its true that he really lacks the romance gene. Still. I feel like I really missed out and it makes me want to tell you to be sure that the Boy reads this post. Especially if this is the man who will be with you for the rest of your life, its nice to do things in a way that you won’t be regretting for the rest of your life, if you see what I mean?

  • lori


    i was kept from my usual blog reading thanks to snowmaggedon/snowpacolypse here in the NE, and when i return online, i come to this post.

    as you’ve quoted in the past, “it’s like the calls are coming from inside the house.”

    i’m not living with my boyfriend of nearly 3 years, but otherwise, i’m in exactly the same situation as you. competely happy, but also feeling a little stuck. darn tradition.

    my boyfriend’s on the old-fashioned side, having been raised by 1 set of his grandparents. he also has financial issues, but wants to do things “the right way,” with a ring and down on 1 knee. i am not interested in ceremonies or jrewelry, just something to show we’re moving ahead and more than boyfriend/girlfriend. so even though we’ve discussed, picked apart, asked and answered every question about getting married, we are still boyfriend/girlfriend, not anything else.

    he’s assured me it’ll be just a few more years before the money things straighten out. since i love him entirely and have never been happier, i continue to try and be patient.

    thank you for this post. just know that many of us understand, in spite of mean comments.

  • Tam

    Better late than never. I too am a long-time reader and first time commenter.

    I am in a similar situation with a Dork Lord of my own (a Dork of EPIC proportions). We’ve been living together for about 4 months and have been together for almost 2 years. I love him dearly and don’t see sharing my life with anyone but him. And, despite the very specific conversations about marriage and family and future nothing has moved forward towards engagement.

    I think what is most frustrating to me is the lack of control. In every other aspect of my life, once I identified wanting something, I made the plans necessary to get it. This? Not so much. The ball is in his court to make a move, and that doesn’t sit well with me.

    What is most annoying about my situation – we live within walking distance of where the ring would come from. How do I know this? Because he told me a while ago the name of the jeweler he wants to go to. I have moments when, as we are driving past the shop, I wonder if this will be the day we stop and just go looking… And, I don’t feel right suggesting it because I feel like he should be the one to get the ball rolling, not me. Just writing that sentence mad my stomach turn…

    So, I do something that is totally against my nature. I wait…for someone else to make a decision about my future. *sigh*

  • marika

    After 2,5 years with the love of my life I was the one who kneeled in front of _him_ and asked him to marry me. I’ve never seen a man so touched, surprised and just full of happiness and love! He got down on his knees to and just told me that he loves me more than I could ever know and of course he wants to marry me. And it wasn’t even a leap year. But maybe we’re less bound by tradition here in northern Europe? ;-)

    Sometimes I think that it would have been so romantic if he had proposed to me but then I realize what I did was equally – of not even more because of the unexpectedness – romantic!

    This was August and we’ll be married this July. Bliss!

  • marika

    After 2,5 years with the love of my life I was the one who kneeled in front of _him_ and asked him to marry me. I’ve never seen a man so touched, surprised and just full of happiness and love! He got down on his knees to and just told me that he loves me more than I could ever know and of course he wants to marry me. And it wasn’t even a leap year. But maybe we’re less bound by tradition here in northern Europe? ;-)

    Sometimes I think that it would have been so romantic if he had proposed to me but then I realize what I did was equally – of not even more because of the unexpectedness – romantic!

    This was August and we’ll be married this July. Bliss!

  • ahhh, that man pride. It’s frustrating and endearing at the same time. Frustrating–why cant they just be like us and rearange things to make it happen. Endearing–you know he’s a good man, which prevents you from becoming too frustrated with him.

  • Carly

    You can put a ring on layaway. A beautiful ring doesn’t have to be crazy expensive. He should at least want to go look at rings with you. If he waits till he’s financially secure, you might as well hold your breath because when that time comes (if it ever comes–only if you’re rich) there will be something else to wait for. Let him know how you feel. Tell him.

  • Maureen

    I hesitate to write this comment, but this is how I feel. I’ll tell you what stings mightily… being 36 and still single, all while being unemployed and broke. I’ve read your blog for a long time and I’m really happy for you that you found love. I cried at your post about how you met him and how you realized you were finally done waiting, etc. But now I just feel like when I read these posts about how hard it is that you aren’t engaged yet, I feel like yelling to you “geez, settle down!” I’ve known lots of people who have waiting for a lot longer. I mean, I do understand where you’re coming from, that it would be extremely frustrating to wait around to get engaged. But try to focus on what you have! Be happy with what you have and before you know it, you will be walking down the aisle. Seriously. It will happen. You said “the more he hesitates, the less special I feel”… please, I beg of you, change your attitude about this or you will ruin it when it does happen, which it will! Your boyfriend is working on it, you WILL be engaged, life will be fine! Don’t ruin what is a very happy time in your life.

  • suz

    After 120 comments I’m not sure mine even needs to go here but… I just wanted to say that I’m not sure all this is just “man pride” as I’ve been with my partner (we are both females) for 4 years and we are committed and sure (as sure as anyone can be) that we want to spend our lives together. We live several hours away from each other and while I would give her a ring this minute… she wants to wait until we live in the same city. And has told me point blank that a ring cannot be forthcoming the moment all our furniture is in the same house, there will be a wait time.

    And since we’re both girls there’s no real precedent for who proposes and gives a ring. So at least you have tradition on your side for some things and don’t have to figure it out as you go :)

    I hope all the previous comments have put your mind at ease a little bit! Good luck and I’m glad you and the DL are happy enough to have these sorts of worries!

  • Oh my goodness… I haven’t visited your blog in months (for no good excuse… shame on me), but I did just today and how poignant of a moment. For I upped my cozy Manhattan studio at Christmas and moved to the middle of nowhere in Ohio for a man I deeply loved. All because we were getting engaged soon in the new year. We even went ring shopping a few times but that all halted to an immediate stop once my foot was in his front door. Now he’s saying wait 6 months too even though we’re so in love and perfect for one another. Reading your blog made me realize that its perfectly acceptable to feel like the impatient girl I so want to be on the outside, but know I can’t. Thank you… we’re only human and its understandable to want a man to shout from the rooftops just how committed he is to us. Alas, I guess men are only human too. Its super annoying though, huh?

  • mels

    As an addendum, thank you so much Fish! Reading this post and all of the wonderful messages from people in similar situations, made me feel so much less alone and able to articulate to my boyfriend and realize I had a point and its not wrong for me to feel this way. I even read your post to him… and he was then able to tell me why he felt the way he did too and for the first time in months, we actually talked rather than fought. And I feel like I can trust him again and I’m more patient since I finally know where he’s coming from. He even asked me to forward your blog on to him so he could read where women feeling similarly are coming from. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  • Anonymous


    Well, that’s just plain awesome. AWESOME.