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engagement ring box


Some women just have it. “It” being that bold sense of self that allows them to set guys straight early on in a relationship. Take a former classmate of mine for example.

I just ran into her at our beloved Veronica Wells’s Bettah Days book launch party. I heard through the grapevine that she had just gotten engaged the week prior and congratulated her, welcoming her into the stressful wife-to-be club. I asked her about her future husband and how long they had been together. She told me it had been less than two years. When I asked her if she saw the proposal coming, she might as well have said, “You bet your sweet a– I knew!”

“Oh yeah, girl. I told him a year into our relationship that I’m not the kind of woman who’s going to be your girlfriend for like five years,” she said. “I told him what I was looking for and said that if he wasn’t looking for the same thing, I wouldn’t waste time.”

Well, damn.

While some women make their plans plain and clear, a lot of us wait (and wait…and wait…) and hope that the men in our lives will realize how special we are and step up sooner rather than later. Sometimes that doesn’t happen. Sometimes you end up in a relationship with a man for six years and don’t get the proposal you’ve been waiting on. In one woman’s case, who shared her story on a popular wedding website, her spouse said he saw her as someone he wanted to spend the rest of his life with early on in their relationship. He was doing well for himself, made good money, and had a stable life — but still hadn’t proposed after six years. Our friend kept waiting and let the resentment build. Her dissatisfaction grew so much that it literally caused her to start looking at her spouse much differently and “emotionally let it destroy me.” She initially hinted about a proposal, then they had to sit down and really talk about it. He made it seem like a proposal was coming soon.

“Well… eventually I gave up,” she said. “I started thinking of him differently, and sometimes would feel angry when he was around. I didn’t like being intimate with him anymore. I still enjoyed his company, and we had fun together. I still loved him, but in a different way.”

As it turns out, he eventually proposed (the weekend before her post), and did so in a pretty romantic way by cooking her dinner and popping the question by the fireplace. She loved the ring. She loved him. But she was so scarred by the waiting game she had been put through that, you guessed it, she told him she couldn’t marry him. In the end, it seems that waiting so long not only built resentment, but showed her that maybe he wasn’t the right man for her.

“Men don’t realize the pain that waiting can cause,” she concluded.

I had never read anything like that. In retrospect, though, it made sense. It’s almost like a friend saying and saying and saying they’re going to do something, and when they finally act like they can make the time and care enough to follow through, you don’t even want to be bothered anymore. I can see how continuously being told that you’re the one someone wants and will propose to, and then not seeing any sign of that happening, can literally make you sick. It becomes a game. Every holiday becomes a nerve-wracking one as you wait and wonder if the the gift under the tree will be a ring; if during Thanksgiving dinner with family he will get down on one knee and pop the question; if he will make a big scene on Valentine’s Day. It’s terrible. My sister’s good friend was with a man for more than 10 years (they started dating in high school) and found herself playing that game until she eventually gave up on the relationship.

Still, it’s all complicated. I think it pays to have a plan like my former classmate who was proposed to recently, while also knowing how to be easy. It’s important to go into a relationship with your intentions made clear and mind right. If you don’t want to be a girlfriend for forever and day, say so. If he can’t see himself wanting to settle down if the relationship is right within a few years, you have to figure out whether or not you are willing to get up and go find what you’re looking for. But at the same time, is that all we’re going into relationships looking for nowadays? Do some of us want the nurturing and loving relationship with a genuinely good person or just want a proposal to say we were able to get one?

I know a girl who was proposed to right after their one-year anniversary. She wanted to be engaged so bad. When it was finally time to field questions about dates, bonding with his family and taking the next step, she realized the man she was about to marry wasn’t the right fit and left him heartbroken a year later. Oh, and she kept the ring.

I say that to say that if you go into a situation ticking down the clock in preparation for a proposal, rather than learning, loving and growing with a person and just letting things run their course, you are tripping about this waiting game. But in the case of this particular woman, while I think she should have picked up and left rather than allowing things to get so bad that her stomach turned at the idea of her significant other, I also believe six years was too long after he said early on he wanted to marry her. Still, I guess it was for the best. Had he not made her wait, she wouldn’t have realized she was waiting for the wrong man…

But as always, that’s just my opinion. What say you? Is this petty? If a guy says he thinks you’re the one, how long is too long to wait for him to propose? 


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