A couple of months ago I posted this status on Facebook:
All great answers… now, I really wanted to hear from guys who have waited 10 years before proposing, and the only reason they eventually did was by an ultimatum by their partners. I also wanted to hear from guts who did propose, and what was the trigger that led them to do so. I wish I could say this post will shed light on the matter, but I’m afraid I come bearing more questions instead.
The reason I put this out ther is because I have seen this scenario play out more than once before my very eyes, and it has happened to me personally. Girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy, girl imagines a future together and then… nothing. Conversations about marriage are pushed aside (craftily) and the subject put off for years and years. In every instance the girl has concocted a “mutual agreement” narrative that is conveniently at hand in case any of her friends or family asked about it, but, if she’s honest with herself she knows in her heart it’s not how she would like things to be.
Here’s an aside for all people out there already thinking “not all women want to get married” or “what makes you think it’s the guy avoiding the topic and not the girl?” or my favorite “it’s the 21st century!”. If you identify with any of these thoughts, I applaud your independence and I do not deny these are all true scenarios, but you might want to turn around and Google a post titled “I don’t care if he doesn’t want to marry me” and read that one instead, for this one in particular is not about you.
Let me tell you about the women I am speaking of. I’ll use myself as the first example, as Shakira wisely said “when you have to speak about two people, it’s always best to start with yourself.” Yes I just quoted (translated) a Shakira song lyric, so sue me (on second thought, please don’t).
The year was 2002. I had just broken up with my latest boyfriend, and decided to stay single for a whole semester. I went on dates, I hung out with guy friends, I flirted, and was doing OK, until I met him. He was polite, he was shy, he blushed when I smiled at him, he was funny (in a surprising way), and he never asked me out. A cute, funny, smart guy who likes my company but does not want to rush things? I was hooked.
He never did ask me out, so we just let our friendship grow until our attraction to each other got the best of us and one day we were magically officially dating. Can you go out with a girl but never have to go through the awkwardness of asking her on a date? Sounds impossible, but this guy managed to sweep me off my feet without having to lift a single finger. A year and a half later I found myself echoing the words of my mother: “what are we waiting for?” I don’t remember his side of the conversation, but I remember feeling that he just wasn’t ready yet.
Another year passed. We almost broke up, but in a grand gesture he moved half way across the country to be with me. Another year passed, and now I was convinced I would get proposed to any minute. I would look forward to birthdays and arbitrary holidays, but they always ended the same way: no proposal, no sign of one, and a cloud of disappointment lurking above me. Another year passed. And another. My mother kept begging me to move on if he didn’t propose by the end of that year… every year. I started to think that perhaps our relationship was not really at “that” stage in his mind, and I started to feel very alone (and even a bit delusional).
I finally decided to make other plans. I enrolled on an MBA program part-time and proceeded to look for a place to live with roommates to save some money and live closer to the school. So far my boyfriend and I had enjoyed the perks of privacy that came with my having my own apartment (he was living at his parents’ at the time), so my decision to move in with strangers appeared to threaten the level of comfort we had become accustomed to, and he was going to have none of it.
He could not suggest we got our own place (we were both of the mind that we should move in together after we got married, and not a day before), but he also could not tell me stop looking (yeah, that would have gone over well… not). So what did he do? There was only one way out: ask me to marry him. He took me up a hot air balloon ride and proposed in the most romantic way, and I said yes. We have been together for 10 tears, married for 5, we have a 2 year old son who is the light of our lives, and we are still very much in love.
If I had left out the “how” it all happened, it would have been a story much more suited for a Kate Hudson/Matthew Maconaughey film. Here’s my storybook version of our story:
I had just broken up with my latest boyfriend, and decided to stay single […] until I met him. […] A cute, funny, smart guy who likes my company but does not want to rush things? I was hooked. […] We almost broke up, but in a grand gesture he moved half way across the country to be with me. Another year passed, and now I was convinced I would get proposed to any minute. […] One day he took me up a hot air balloon ride and proposed in the most romantic way, and I said yes. We have been married for 5 years, we have a 2 year old son who is the light of our lives, and we are still very much in love.
Wow, what a difference.
Other women have had different experiences. I know at least 2 women who gave their boyfriends ultimatums, and they obliged.
I know another couple where the girl wants to be with him forever, but he simply does not want to commit because of his own baggage from past marriages (despite this discrepancy in relationship expectations, they are still together).
I know more than one couple that were together for nearly 10 years before the guy proposed. In most of those cases the guy simply did not want to get married while he was still so young (from my informal research, looks like 27 is the sweet spot for reconsideration).
The theme appears to be that men need some kind of trigger. Love is not a trigger. Love is something you can feel for someone else for many years without ever having to change a thing. For some men, the trigger is age, for others it might be the ultimate choice between marriage and break-up, and for others (such as my husband’s) living arrangements that make more sense (this is the least romantic of all).
No guy will ever read this post. But if for some miracle they do, I’d love to hear their opinion on the matter. Or, ladies, feel free to share your husband/fiance’s take: what did prompt them to propose? What was it that did them in?
On the flip side, if you know why a guy did not or does not want to marry you, what was/is the reason?