24 Sep 2012

How Long Should I Wait for a Marriage Proposal Before Giving Up?

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Hi Grace,

I’ve been with my boyfriend for 4 years now and I love him more than anything. Even though we have a wonderful relationship and can’t get enough of each other, I can’t help but wonder when, or if, he is ever going to ask me to marry him.

We have lived together for about 2 years now and I really feel like it’s time to take the next step in our relationship, especially as all of our close friends are married. I want to get married, but when he talks to his buddies he makes marriage sound terrible.

How long do I wait before I give up?


Thank you so much for your question,

The first thing that comes to mind when I read through your post is picturing the toll this “waiting” is taking on you. When we don’t feel in control of our lives or our future happiness, waiting for validation and approval from others, it comes at great cost to our own self-esteem. The time has come for you to discuss your future with your boyfriend, so you can remain a healthy and happier individual.

You see, discussion in your case is necessary because the key to a successful relationship is the ability to communicate with one another effectively. You have shared with me that you have been together happily for four years, so I can assume you have communicated effectively before reaching this point. It also took positive communication skills to progress to the stage of living together, as you have for these past two years. It is now time to sit down with your boyfriend and openly express your feelings about marriage, allowing him to do the same both freely and openly.

Many women still feel it is completely a man’s place to propose, and if you prefer this tradition and are comfortable with it, that is ok. But the problem I see here has nothing to do about waiting for a proposal – it is that you are doubting that your boyfriend ever will consider marriage, given how negatively he speaks about getting married with his friends. To me it appears you see waiting to be proposed to as the problem, but I see it as they symptom of a bigger problem – his feelings toward marriage.

Let me ask you this: if your boyfriend surprised you and asked you to marry him today, how would you feel? If it were me, I would still be concerned because the messages I’ve been receiving from him are those of a man who doesn’t want to be married. Do you see what I mean? The issue here isn’t waiting for a proposal at all – it is about how your partner, who you have shared four years with, might not want the same things you do.

Waiting for him to propose isn’t healthy for you, nor is the underlying anxiety as you question that perhaps he doesn’t believe in marriage. It is time to sit down with your boyfriend and have open, honest communication. Though you are a couple, you are also two individuals with unique life experiences, feelings and desires. You must respect each others’ uniqueness during this discussion and decide, if necessary, if you can find compromise and resolution – without either of you feeling forced to be someone you are not.

As a final tip, do keep in mind that there could be external causes influencing his negative talk concerning marriage. He could be merely giving in to peer pressure, having a different persona when with friends. He also could have lived through a childhood where bitter divorce turned him against believing in marriage. So if your boyfriend does admit to not believing in marriage, encourage deeper understanding and create a safe environment where he feels free to further explore his feelings.

On a positive note, the door isn’t closed if he doesn’t initially tell you what you want to hear. In truth, the door has just swung wide open because you both are now discussing the issue as a couple – and that is a skill that only secure, healthy couples possess!

Best of luck to you,


Grace Pamer is a full time romance and relationship writer. She writes romance and marriage proposal tip columns for various publications including YourTango.com and GalTime.com. As seen on FoxNews.com, Cosmopolitan.com, DivineCaroline.com and CanadianLiving.com to name but a few.

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