Hi, my name is Amy…and I was once obsessed with getting engaged.
Yup. It’s true. Several years ago, I was mildly hyperfocused on my desire to get engaged and married to my longtime boyfriend. It might sound slightly crazy to admit that, but I know that I am far from alone in this experience.
There are tons of women out there who are anxiously awaiting a proposal. Women who are going crazy wondering why he hasn’t proposed yet. Obsessing over questions like does he even want to get married?
Based on my encounters with other women as well as the evidence to be found on the Internet, these feelings and obsessions are actually fairly common, but there aren’t that many helpful resources for those going through it. That is why I am writing this article. It’s the article I wish had existed for me back then.
You’re with a great guy. You both love each other, there is commitment, affection, trust, respect. He is the one! So why won’t he propose?
If you’re reading this, chances are good that you’ve been in a relationship for a significant amount of time, probably for at least a couple of years. When I started obsessing about getting engaged, I’d been with Nathan for about 2 1/2 years. I was right on target to start getting engagement fever!
Ultimately, Nathan and I got engaged in the fall of 2015, 3 and half years after we’d started dating. We got married in April of 2016, a full 4 years after we’d started dating. When I think of it now, this was a perfect amount of time to be together. But if you’d asked me earlier if I was ready to be engaged, I know I would have answered a hearty yes! I was ready (at least I thought) quite quickly.
I think this is a very normal way to feel, especially for a young woman. Although cultural attitudes may be changing and becoming less traditional, marriage is still held up as a primary goal. And it wasn’t just societal pressures for me. I really desired marriage. I always felt thrilled at the prospect of marriage. I wanted to find a man to spend my life with and I wanted to make that ultimate, lifetime commitment in front of our friends and family. Marriage was important to me, and it represented the pinnacle of a romantic relationship.
If you’re here reading this, it’s likely that you feel the same way.
Marriage is a goal for you and something you deeply desire in your life. Thus, you might feel anxious and impatient for it to happen, especially when you’ve already found the person you know you want to spend your life with.
So what is he waiting for? Why won’t he propose?! Why hasn’t he proposed?!
Let’s take a look at the logical answers. Trust me, you need some logic right now. We’ll examine the likely reasons he has not asked you to marry him yet and how you can best react to keep your sanity.
Reasons He Hasn’t Proposed
There are many reasons why he may be hesitant to propose.
Fear…of commitment, of change, of loss of freedom
Probably the #1 reason a man hesitates to propose is because of some kind of fear. To be honest, he may not even experience this fear on a conscious level, nor would he label it as fear. But fear can have many disguises.
It is very normal for both men and women to experience degrees of fear at the prospect of marriage. And with good reason! If marriage is meant to be the life-changing, lifetime commitment we want it to be, it makes complete sense that we would approach it with caution and even reverence.
If your man is slow to get down on one knee, it is very likely that he takes marriage seriously and is contemplating it slowly and carefully. (This was certainly the case for my husband-to-be. He knew the level of commitment he was making and wanted to move forward deliberately and securely).
This seriousness of marriage can be what scares many men. The idea of being with one person for the rest of your LIFE….why, it’s enough to send anyone running for the hills! The gravity of the marriage decision is not to be ignored, so it’s possible that he hasn’t proposed to you yet because of some fear.
My advice? Patience. Give him time to work through this in his own way, and if he’s showing commitment to you in other ways, it is likely that the “marriage” way is coming along soon, albeit slowly. (If he’s not showing commitment to the relationship in general, that’s another issue. Consider reading this article.)
Alongside the fear of commitment can be similar worries for the man: will he lose his freedom? Will he change once you’ve gotten married? Will you?
These are important questions for every future spouse to deal with. It can be helpful to talk about these kinds of things if you’re in a serious long-term relationship, but also know that these are issues almost every guy deals with when considering marriage.
He doesn’t feel he’s where he wants/needs to be in life
Another major delay to the marriage proposal is when a guy “just doesn’t feel ready” or like he’s “where he wants to be in life.” This usually has to do with money or career matters.
Here’s another thing that may be society-driven. Men have grown up with the knowledge that he needs to “provide for his family.” In general, financial and social stability means a great deal to a man, and without these things securely in place, he may not feel ready to make the next move romantically.
Unfortunately, there’s very little you can do to change a man’s mind in this regard. We all have personal goals and visions for our lives and if he doesn’t feel he is secure enough, either financially or career-wise, you may just need to continue to be patient.
What you can do is affirm your man. Show him support in these areas of his life. Demonstrate respect for what he does and for his achievements. Celebrate his wins. This kind of support is vital for long-term relationship success, and it just might help him to grow more confident to take that next step in life.
It’s also generally a good sign when this is what is slowing down an engagement. It shows that your potential future husband takes his responsibilities seriously and wants to be a solid provider/contributor to the household. So again, be patient. Are you seeing a pattern here?
The two of you haven’t actually discussed it
Is it possible that your partner doesn’t know that you’re thinking engagement and marriage? You might be pining for a ring, but if the two of you haven’t actually discussed these things, you might be on very different pages!
Personally, I think that there should be at least *some* marriage discussion right from the start of any new relationship. At the very least, you need to know if your potential partner is open to marriage or not. If marriage is important to you, you’d better make sure it’s important to any potential partners as well. Otherwise, you’re both wasting your time heading towards different futures.
If you’ve been together for a couple of years and you have no idea where he stands on the concept of marriage, it’s time to sit down and have a talk. This doesn’t need to be dramatic, and it certainly should not be an ultimatum of any kind, but rather you can invite some straightforward discussion on his thoughts on marriage and where he thinks your relationship is going. Such a conversation is vital so that you have a clearer picture of your shared future.
He doesn’t believe in the idea of marriage
What if it turns out your partner doesn’t want to get married…to anyone…ever. This may be the case, and if it is, find out as soon as possible.
Do people ever change their mind? Yes, it’s possible. But if your partner is telling you they don’t believe in marriage, don’t like it, or plan never to enter into marriage, you’re best off believing them.
You’re going to have to decide if this is enough for you. This is likely to be a painful and exceedingly tough decision, but you’ll need to examine your heart closely and make the best choice going forward. Can you be with a partner when the prospect of marriage is off the table? Personally, I couldn’t. Your decision is yours to make and either one is okay, but be sure you’re not compromising your values.
Marriage is a wonderful gift, and if it’s something you want, find someone who wants it, too.
He is overwhelmed by your expectations
It could be that your guy hasn’t proposed yet because he is overwhelmed by expectations—either yours or society’s.
We can blame the Internet for this. Over-the-top proposals have become popular and often circulate online with viral power. Do you expect an insane over-the-top proposal like this? This can be a lot to ask of a guy, especially one who may be introverted or shy. Are you obsessed with luxurious, expensive rings? Your boyfriend might be panicking about how much to spend.
Take a look at what you’re projecting to your boyfriend. You may be demonstrating high expectations (whether overtly or not) and it could be problematic. If this is the case, a straightforward discussion never goes amiss. But you can also drop hints. Let your man know that you don’t need to be proposed to with a flash mob or a helicopter. What matters to you are his words and his intentions and a special moment. Let him know that that is enough. That he is enough.
On another note, if your expectations ARE super high and over-the-top, you may need to do some self-reflection. While these things are nice, they are not prerequisites for love or marriage. Work on developing more realistic expectations and you’ll find that you are much happier in the long run. And you’ll definitely still find moments of romance and magic, I promise.
You’re on different timelines
Why hasn’t he proposed? Maybe he’s on a totally different timeline then you. This is pretty common, and usually stems from some of the above issues or concerns. Ultimately, some men (and women) envision the journey to marriage as a much slower process than others.
Again, discussion is paramount to get on the same page.
He’s just not ready
Finally, your man may simply not be ready to get married. Perhaps he has some growing up to do, some issues to work through, or other things which hold him back.
Marriage is the union of two people and you have to respect his timeline as well as your own. If he isn’t ready, and doesn’t know when he will be, you may have some tough choices ahead. Read some of the suggestions below.
So He Hasn’t Proposed – Here’s How to React
Okay, so now that we’ve examined most of the common reasons a man hasn’t proposed, we turn next to the question: so what do I do?
First, let me present a caveat: no one can tell you what decision to make for your life. Ultimately, you have to decide what is best for you in the relationship realm. That said, don’t be afraid to seek out help and guidance, from counselors, friends, family, and those who know and love you best. These sources can help us think clearly when dealing with matters of the heart, where our judgment so easily gets clouded.
And a second caveat: just because he hasn’t proposed (yet), it doesn’t mean you need to leave the relationship. So many factors are at play in making the decision to marry another person. Time and patience are everything in these matters. Don’t rush your decision.
Breathe, take a beat, and take stock
My number one tip when obsessing about engagement is simply to sloooooow down. If you’ve read the above sections of this article, it may already be more clear to you why your partner has not yet proposed. This could help allay some of your fears and worries.
For me, just knowing that I was in a good, solid relationship helped me so much. I knew that we were on the same page overall (though on slightly different timelines). It was comforting to me to know that we were in this for the long haul together and that marriage was our eventual shared goal, something we were slowly working towards.
On the other hand, take stock of things, carefully and deliberately. If you’ve been together for several years and your partner won’t discuss marriage, shows no signs of moving towards it, or keeps making excuses, you’ll need to make a decision.
This is so important. Men often just need us to be patient with them while they get to the point of being ready for the next step. And don’t be fooled, many women experience the same fears and hesitations as men! It’s totally normal.
Practice being patient with your partner. This is not just vital now but is a valuable skill you’ll need in marriage as well.
Enjoy what you have
Another HUGE tip is this. Enjoy what you have right NOW. Live in the moment. Engagement is wonderful, marriage is wonderful, but when those things come, you’ll never have this again—life right now as you are. Soak up every moment of having a boyfriend because it’s special and amazing, and if you get married eventually, that boyfriend status is temporary.
Don’t rush that next stage in life. Life is too short.
Check out these signs he wants to marry you. It can remind you of the good partner you have and help you live in the moment.
Practice self-love and self-care
If you’re obsessing over engagement, you may be seeking validation and reassurance from external sources. Self-love and self-care are the remedy for this. I know how hard it can be to learn to truly, deeply love yourself, but when you do, the driving need to be engaged or married suddenly won’t seem as pressing. You will know that you are enough.
Cultivate a self-love and self-care practice right now. It will serve you throughout your life in so many incredible ways.
Give yourself a digital detox
Avoid Pinterest! Get off Facebook! Stop searching wedding hashtags!
One of the easiest ways to stop being “wedding obsessed” is to get off the damn Internet. Seriously. Social media is not helping you if you’re ruminating on something like getting engaged.
I highly recommend a digital detox. Get outside and away from your screen for a while. Plan a trip with friends (no engagement/wedding talk allowed!). In general, just throw yourself into your hobbies, passions, and other relationships and remember that life is not all about this one thing.
Live your freakin’ life
Again, embrace this time in your life. You will never have this moment just as it is again, and that makes it precious and something to hold onto.
Marriage, engagement, and the like are not everything. Go live life and embrace all the other rich possibilities around you. It will definitely help take your mind off the ring.