“Why hasn’t he proposed yet?!” is an age-old question, long pondered even before the age of the infamous Mrs. Bennet.
It was never a simple question, but the countless ways to answer it have only grown since women in bonnets walked upon the earth. Before you yearn for a more straightforward, simpler time, remember that while the modern dating world has certainly complicated relationships, not needing a man to own property is pretty great (and so are antibiotics).
Modern perks of life aside, one of the few old-fashioned rules left is that the overwhelming majority believe it’s the man’s role to propose. According to a study by the University of California, not one of heterosexual men ages 17 to 26 surveyed said he “would definitely want my partner to propose,” and not one of the heterosexual women said she “would definitely want to propose.” Not one. If you’re a modern woman and want him to propose, you’re in good company.
While there are countless reasons why he hasn’t popped the question that don’t bode well for your relationship, according to the experts I spoke with, there are also three good reasons he hasn’t proposed that don’t necessarily spell doom for your future happiness.
Hopeful Reason #1: He Doesn’t Think He Makes Enough Money
“Old-school? Maybe,” says April Masini, relationship and etiquette expert of AskApril.com. “But it’s a real reason that guys delay the proposal.” She says that guys usually have a specific number in their head, and “he’s waiting to make the amount of money he thinks is a responsible number for a husband.” If you think this might be the reason your guy is dragging his feet, have a conversation with him about your values and how money plays into that. This will certainly make sure your expectations around money and personal values are aligned, and it might even set right any assumptions he had about your hopes and wishes.
Hopeful Reason #2: He Doesn’t Have Incentive
You’ve dated for years, and he’s taking his sweet time. This is certainly more of a modern problem, and while not limited to them, it is far more prevalent with couples who live together. Many times guys who are in this situation believe that things really can’t get much better. You are already living like a married couple, so why change anything? “Sometimes women make things too easy,” shares Karenna Alexander, a matchmaker and certified dating coach in New York. Unfortunately, by acting like you’re married before you’re actually married, the guy can lose incentive to work for it—and the relationship can stagnate.
If you suspect your long-term relationship or married-couple lifestyle has gotten in the way of wedded bliss, it would be helpful to initiate a conversation about what marriage really means to you and why it’s important. Not only will this conversation ensure that your visions are aligned, but it will also hopefully remind him that you aren’t leaving the dream yet.
Hopeful Reason #3: He Overthinks to the Point of Anxiety
“Many guys want to get married but overthink the whole process. They let their worries about finances, wedding details, children, and other future questions get in the way of acting in the present,” Jonathan Bennett says. Bennett runs the blog The Popular Man, and he says, “This paralysis by analysis leads many guys to put off proposing until ‘the right time,’ which never comes.” If you think anxiety might be stalling your marriage proposal, find out what is making your guy nervous, and encourage him to talk to a mentor or therapist.
A lot of people, understandably, have reservations about getting married. Marriage can feel like a mystery to those whose parents didn’t have a happy marriage or whose friends are all complaining about the old “ball and chain.” Even more helpful? Take a skills-based marriage course that will spark conversations and equip you both with everything you need to know about how to have a happy marriage.
Sure, these could be issues—but not necessarily. According to Rhonda Milrad, LCSW and Relationship Therapist, if he openly communicates to you what’s standing in the way—whether it’s career growth, financial stability, or simply wanting more time—you’ll know. If he makes room to understand your feelings and address your concerns, it’s a good sign that something is in the works.
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