DEAR ROCKY LOVE: Ready or not?

By on November 25, 2014

dearrockyweb-300x300Dear Rocky Love,

I’ve been with my guy for nearly eight years. We’re great together, but I’m feeling anxious about the length of the relationship without any sort of commitment. I don’t want to be a lifetime “girlfriend.” Should I break my own heart and call it quits?

– Signed, Ready to Tie the Knot

Dear Ready,

Hold on to your horses! Let’s not go driving ourselves off any cliffs. I don’t think your only two options are to be in limbo or to break your own heart.

From your letter, I can infer that you are a fairly traditional gal. You want your guy to propose to you, not the other way around. If I can tell that about you from a few sentences, I’m guessing that your boyfriend, who knows you much better than I do, has a pretty clear idea of who you are and what your values and principles are. He probably knows that you expect a proposal. What he may not know is that there is a clock ticking very loudly in your ear.

There could be a few things holding him back, including: irrational fear of rejection; concern that he will be able to provide as a husband and father; uncertainty about what kind of ring you want; lack of enthusiasm for a wedding; and, yes, fear of commitment or discomfort with planning for the future.

If your boyfriend is not in synch with you about getting engaged, the best way to move forward is to try to address his fears and concerns. Since you have been together for eight years, I’m going to assume that talking about your future together is not a new activity. Now would be a good time to initiate more conversations involving the future, making it clear that you envision him in yours.

The provider thing is a big one for men. Women may be equal wage earners (or as close as we can be, given the gender wage gap) but a lot of guys have old-fashioned ideas about needing to be the breadwinner. Try a direct conversation about how your combined incomes can help enable your future dreams. Also let him know the other ways he makes you feel taken care of.

If you suspect that ring anxiety could be at play, find a relaxed way to mention what you want. Maybe you’ve done this already? If you are hoping for a $10K rock, that may be a setback and you may want to re-evaluate your priorities. Ditto if you want a wedding at the Four Seasons. Make sure to figure reality into your fantasies — the really important part is the husband.

Finally, you know the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Your guy may be guilty of believing this about your relationship. He may not understand that making the commitment of marriage can be a way of elevating your bond and deepening your connection.

You can try reminding him of other instances in your relationship when you have made commitments together, like perhaps buying furniture or raising a pet, or jointly paying for a vacation. Then talk about how those things enhanced your relationship.

What I’m suggesting are ways to help the topic of marriage rise to the surface. What I can’t guarantee is that your guy will in fact propose. Marriage isn’t for everyone. For some women, being a permanent girlfriend would be the path to ultimate freedom within a relationship. My hope is that you two are not mismatched in your basic desire for getting hitched.

— XO, Rocky Love

Dear Rocky Love is an advice column on dating, sex and relationships in the Tetons. Send your letters c/o JH Weekly, PO Box 3249, Jackson, WY 83001

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