On how long to wait for a boyfriend to propose.
Hello everybody, welcome to episode 41 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino.
Coming at you today with our fourth episode in a row that deals with romantic relationships of some kind. Kinda goes without saying that we could talk about this all day every day as relationships are so detailed and complicated and come with so many different facets that we could discuss.
As a reminder, I do discuss them on the Optimal Relationships Daily podcast, if you haven’t checked that out already. Though I don’t offer advice there, I do narrate some great essays on relationships written by fellow coaches, therapists, psychiatrists and more. So if the relationship talk is for you, check out that podcast as well.
For now, we’ll look to help yet another person looking to make the most of romance. Let’s see what she has to say…
QUESTION: “Greg, I’m a 38 year old woman and have been dating a man who is 32 for a year and a half now. Neither of us has had many relationships, but we both feel very confident that this is the real thing and that we want to spend our lives together. My question is what’s taking him so long to propose? We’ve talked about it and agreed that we are ready, but no ring yet. I don’t want to put pressure on him, but as Marisa Tomei would say, my biological clock is ticking.”
Oh my word. Wow. If this guy doesn’t come around, give me a call.
I’ll propose to any woman who casually drops My Cousin Vinny references.
First piece of advice to all listeners is go watch My Cousin Vinny if you haven’t already!
How Long is “Too Long” to Wait for Someone to Propose?
Okay, let’s take a look here.
I’m admittedly shaken. Look, you’ve known your boyfriend for a year and a half and you say you both feel confident that this is the real thing.
Grab our journaling sample worksheet inspired by Optimal Living Daily episodes! You'll get to download it in our private library 🙂
Do you think that you know all there is to know about him? Probably not. If you’re having trouble with that, then do you think he knows all there is to know about you? Again, probably not.
Most likely, this is because some things fall through the cracks and get forgotten, rather than because things are being hidden purposefully. But there’s the middle ground, too, the things that are not forgotten, not hidden per say, but just difficult to express.
Marriage is a process of lifelong learning — I highly doubt that any two partners know all there is to know about one another at the time of their marriage. Your relationship is no different.
Why Hasn't Your Boyfriend Proposed Yet?
So with this in mind, let’s be mindful about the fact that there is any number of reasons that your boyfriend might not have proposed yet in spite of the extent to which you’ve talked about it.
Maybe he’s waiting for his finances to be in a better place, or maybe he just hasn’t found the perfect moment yet.
So if you’ve got a cruise or something coming up, then get pumped.
Really though, it could be anywhere between those two. Your job in this waiting period is simply to remain patient and communicative.
It’s also your job to understand two things.
1. This is not a definite sign that you're not loved.
The first thing to remember is that in no way, shape or form is this potential concealing of information a sign that you are not loved — even if it’s something closer to finances than it is to waiting for the right proposal moment.
Of course, full communication is definitely IDEAL, but people who are unable to reveal themselves completely to you are not necessarily people who don’t love you as much as you love them. Many times, people keep information from loved ones as a means of protecting them, or because they don’t feel it’d be useful (good or bad) to disclose information, or, quite frequently, out of concern that their loved one’s impression of them will change.
Should it be the latter, you have to understand that such a dilemma revolves more around them struggling to love themselves optimally rather than struggling to love others optimally. This type of personal battle likely has nothing to do with you or with their ability to love you.
2. A year and a half means different things to different people.
The second thing to remember is that a year and a half means different things to different people — and that difference in age and time perspective could certainly stand to be the case when we’re talking about a 38 year old woman and a 32 year old man.
The younger you are (especially as a man, but for women too), the more time and flexibility you allot yourself when it comes to getting to know someone. Talked about this in episode 24; it’s inevitable.
The closer we are to middle age, especially with fertility in question, the easier it gets to want to rush things along. I’m sure this is truthful for you in some ways; that in the few relationships past, you put less pressure on partners to make a commitment, be the perfect match, do everything correctly, etc. With more rush, comes higher standards and less time or tolerance to get to know one another.
Speeding things up around your age makes sense, but it comes with these risks.
Now, think for a second about what a year and a half might mean to your partner. One could see how he’d feel less pressured by time, both emotionally and physically. Not that getting married has to be more about pressure than desire, of course, but he doesn’t have as much reason to be in the same rush as you do.
However, that’s not to say that he isn’t well aware of your age and is likely picking up some the stress that you’re feeling from this, which wouldn’t make him feel more at ease. He’s likely caught in a whirlwind between wanting to feel perfectly ready for himself (as we men tend to do), as well as accommodating to your perfectly understandable needs in this situation. He might communicate this, he might not.
Whatever the case may be, be aware that he’s likely wrestling with this impending proposal in a different way.
The Influence of Social Norms
And finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that you’re allowing stupid social norms to dictate this entire struggle of yours. (Editor's Note: Check out this great summary on social roles and conformity on SimplyPsychology.com.)
You don’t HAVE to wait for him to propose. There’s no one worth listening to that’s saying you, as a woman, can’t propose to him if you’re ready to.
I know I’m turning this into general advice here, but for everyone listening, there are so many absurd social norms that prevent us from doing things that are very important to us and don’t hurt anyone. It’s WELL worth your time to stop and consider which social norms might be behind a lot of the problems you’re facing that you feel others are responsible for.
This is a classic example of how we can be so forgetful and so distant of these simple truths that we allow the biggest moments of our lives to be put on hold or not happen all together. There’s no need for that, especially in 2020 as the world accommodates more and more to unbridled freedom.
So remember that you always have that option. And if you feel as close to your partner as you say you do, and you feel that, in spite of what we’ve talked about today, that the marriage can be successful right now, then there’s nothing holding you back from initiating the proposal.
There we have it, folks. Great question, great episode. Thank you so much for sending this question in.
Love and affection has many, many layers — some of which absolutely lie between love and marriage. It’s easy to forget that, so today’s episode felt to me like an important reminder.
If you have questions of your own, do email them to us at advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
Extra points if you can manage to squeeze a My Cousin Vinny quote into them.
Can’t wait to see you in the next one, everybody. And until then, have a wonderful day.