Ask A Very Smart Brotha: He Proposed But I Never Got A Ring

January 23, 2013  |  

Ok, I REALLY need help.

Rundown:
–BF and I have been dating for 7 years
–He proposed a year ago but never gave me a ring, so I’ve been waiting
–His car recently got repo’d for not paying tickets, so he had to pay $5k to get it all out. (Money was borrowed from aunt.)
–In April, I told him that he had until the end of the year to give me my ring and officially propose or I would leave. The other day, he told me he would miss that deadline since he paid so much to get his car out.

What should I do???  Help please!

Dear What Should I Do,

There are two separate things I want to address in your question. Neither of them directly answer your question, but you can find the answer to your question in both responses. (Trust me, it’ll make more sense once you read.)

1. Your situation is a perfect example of why age considerations are so important when asking and answering a question. While it may not seem “right” or “fair” to think about an adult’s age when giving them advice about dating and relationships—especially when much of the feelings and emotions that go along with this subject transcend age—it is practical.

Anyway, I’m bringing this up because my response to your question depends on your age. If you’re in your late 20s or above, I’d advise you to move on. Why? Well, if you are that age, then you were at least 21 when you two started dating. Basically, your relationship began while you were both adults, and it usually doesn’t take adults seven years to finally realize they want to marry someone. In fact, I’d argue that, for people in their late 20s to early 30s, after two years of dating, the likelihood of you actually getting married decrease with each year. A “engagement” after seven years seems more like a pressured response to an ultimatum (more on this later) more than a man who actually wants to be with a woman for the rest of his life.

If you two are young (25 or below), though—and the tone and content of this letter leads me to believe that you are—I’d be more willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in regards to his plans. Perhaps he does want to marry you, but doesn’t have the money or resources to do things the way he wants to. (Btw, if a car is repossessed, it’s because he wasn’t making car payments, not because of unpaid tickets.)

That being said, my spidey senses still tell me that regardless of your age, he just doesn’t seem to be all that into marrying you. Is that just cause to break up? I don’t know. But, I do know that if you want to be married, you’re going to have to find someone else

2. I want you—and everyone reading this—to repeat after me: Heart-related ultimatums are always terrible ideas.

ALWAYS!

Why? Well, while the heart-related ultimatum—what happens when one person threatens to leave someone unless they make a commitment to them—might get what the person wants (a commitment), it gets it for the wrong reason. Basically, if you want someone to commit to you, you should want them to want to commit. The heart-related ultimatum, though, forces someone to commit out of guilt or fear. So, even if you get the desired answer, you’re left with someone who only said they wanted to be with so you’d shut up and stop asking.

In summary, if you have to ask someone to commit to you, you have your answer even before they give theirs.

Sincerely,

Damon Young

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