Two Sense: How Long Do I Wait for a Proposal?

Two Sense: How Long Do I Wait for a Proposal?


My question is simple: How long should I give my live-in boyfriend of two years to propose before I kick his ass to the curb? No, I'm not going to propose and no, I'm not going to hint or nag. He either steps up or not. I need advice on a time frame. I'm 35 and don't want kids (neither does he), so there's no biological clock at play, just my self-respect. Thanks.

He Said: You are confusing marriage and respect. What you should demand is respect on a regular basis, in every interaction, in every fact of your lives together. Marriage is a largely symbolic legal document that hardly guarantees love and respect. As often as not, it brings just the opposite. Judge your boyfriend for the quality of his love, not his adherence to an institution that is not right for everyone. So please do not do any ass-kicking. Sit down and talk about your future together rather than issuing invisible ultimatums and absurd threats.

She Said: Personally, I dig your kick-ass attitude, but I don’t think it’s going to get you what you want, which seems to be a marriage proposal. I get that you’re angry, that you expected a proposal long before this. But sweetie, is your boyfriend even aware of your inner timeline? Did you make it clear from the get-go that, should things work out, you wanted to be married within a certain number of years? Or are you expecting him to glean this from reading your mind or from attending a few of your closest friends’ recent weddings? (Why do I have a feeling there have been recent weddings on your social calendar?) You have to understand that unless you’ve made it crystal clear, this mental calendar is yours alone. Some people want to be engaged within a year and some want to wait five. Others want to cohabitate indefinitely. If it helps, one recent long-term study has found the average amount of time couples are together before engagement is 2.8 years.

Given the fact that you don’t want to propose, nor do you want to hint, your remaining option is to make a clear, concise, neutral statement that starts a conversation with your boyfriend. During the dessert course of a luxurious restaurant meal, simply ask, “So, we’ve been living together two years now. Where do you see this going?” Then stay quiet. Ask no other questions but answer any he poses. Pay close attention to his reaction, which could range from, “I’ve been thinking about that too” (a good sign!) to, “Um, well, I don’t know, where do you see it going?” (a bad sign). This should give you all the information you need to decide whether to wait any longer.

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