Q. My boyfriend and I have been together for four years and live together. We are both 29. Our families and I always joke with him that he should propose soon. It’s a running joke in our house at this point, but as with most jokes, there is some truth behind it.
Getting engaged is something that I think about and want daily. It feels silly to be this committed, this in love, and live together just to be boyfriend/girlfriend.
We talked about this seriously last fall and he said his ideal timeline was summer 2023 but I said I’d like it to be sooner. I know I’m not planning it or paying for it, but I’d like to think my ideal timeline matters here, too. Last night, he said next spring. So ... pretty much as close to summer 2023 as we can get.
I was pretty disappointed, which feels silly. I know a lot goes into planning an engagement and I’m sure he has a plan he’s excited about, but I’m upset that this is just seemingly an area of my life that I have no control over. When I said I was disappointed, he said he could be convinced to propose earlier, which made me really sad. No one wants to have to convince their significant other to do that. Now it feels like a topic to avoid talking about. Next spring still feels like a long wait to me, but I also don’t want to sit down to convince someone to propose sooner. Part of me thinks I should just drop it, and it will happen when it happens. I’m hoping you have some helpful insight.
BARE FINGER 4EVER
A. “I know I’m not planning it or paying for it.”
This seems relevant (and I assume you mean the proposal/ring and not the wedding).
The way I see it, you can perform these pre-wedding rituals like they happen in certain movies, where an engagement is all about surprise, grand gestures, and a gift, or you can take some of the spontaneity out of it and make plans together. What is an engagement, after all? For some, it’s a social media opp. For others, it begins a journey to marriage, where everything is shared. What does it mean to you?
Also, what about the rest of your future? What else are you saving for? What about family? Geography? This ring and question are on a much longer list of goals. What kind of proposal makes sense when you think about the bigger picture?
If you want version A, where you get the grand gesture and the proposal is all about him presenting something to you, you’re on his timeline (sorry). But if you want to be two partners planning this as a team, you can tell him that. It’s not about convincing, it’s about being honest about values. Some might say that takes the romance out of it, but I think it’s more romantic for partners to talk about goals and a timeline than to observe a tradition that doesn’t make them feel good. You don’t feel great right now, and maybe he doesn’t either.
Maybe ask him to sit down with you to talk about post-wedding goals, then work backward. Set a precedent that you make important decisions together. He can still surprise you with the how and where, but the when ... that’s something you want to be part of too.
Don’t push him. Don’t nag him. Just let it happen.
What’s stopping you from proposing to him?
You should be able to discuss the timeline of your own life. So he wants to get engaged next spring, then what? Does that actually mean marriage? and if so, when? Is he talking two years or 10? These things make a difference. Your life shouldn’t be a running joke.
One evening, over a wonderful meal at an inn, my boyfriend and I found ourselves deciding together to get married, and by dessert had planned our wedding and guest list. We’ve been married almost 26 years. There was no grand gesture, no media, just the two of us and it was perfect. Best of luck!
Send your own relationship and dating questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch new episodes of Meredith Goldstein’s “Love Letters” podcast at loveletters.show or wherever you listen to podcasts. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters.