The Truth About Why Your Boyfriend Won't Propose
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  • Post published:16/06/2021
  • Post last modified:16/06/2021

Why won’t he propose?!

For the longest time, I assumed that the only real “proof” there could be that a man loved you was the moment he got down on one knee and proposed marriage.

However, I’m now in my 30s and in the happiest relationship I have ever been in, and marriage isn’t even on the table.

What is it about marriage that turns even the sanest and put-together women and men into crazed lunatics? It could be seeing all your friends popping the question, showing off the engagement rings, or saying “I do” on social media that drives us insane.

Personally, I think it’s because of what I thought as a young person: we assume that love and marriage are synonyms. So if a man loves you, he will want to propose to you so he can be your husband and you, his wife.

That’s why it can feel like such a devastating rejection when your boyfriend won’t propose, even though he says he loves you.

Why won’t my boyfriend propose to me?

There are many reasons why your boyfriend won’t propose marriage (or simply hasn’t proposed yet) that have nothing to do with you or how he feels about you.

Sadly, some reasons have, well, everything to do with you and how he feels for you, too.

The only way to understand which camp you fall into is by taking an honest look at what marriage means to you and then finding out if it means the same thing to your boyfriend.

This is the kind of stuff that can make or break relationships, which is why it’s so important to do the hard work of understanding his point of view about proposals and wedding bells before you go ahead and brandish some grandiose ultimatum.

Relationship expert Manj Weerasekera says, “Instead of diving straight into a list of possible reasons why he won’t play ball, it’s worth taking a moment to figure out why you want him to. What is marriage going to give you that an otherwise committed, long-term relationship won’t?”

1. Some guys won’t propose because they’re not ready for marriage yet.

He isn’t stringing you along, he’s moving at his own pace and that’s good for both of you.

Typically, women just plain feel ready for marriage more quickly than the average man.

Maybe it’s a biological imperative, our clocks telling us that it’s time to settle down and start popping out wee ones, or maybe it’s because women emotionally mature faster the men, whatever the case may be: women are ready for marriage before men are ready for marriage.

“Historically men have been more eager to marry when they’re financially secure, and women have wanted to marry when they wanted children,” says biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher.

That doesn’t mean that men aren’t thinking about tying the knot. In fact, I think you’ll be hard-pressed to talk to a man in a relationship who doesn’t have very strong feelings about the right time and the wrong time to get engaged and married.

I think a lot of that comes down to doing your best to understand his perspective.

“He first needs to feel like he knows what he’s doing in the world and where he’s going,” explains John Gray, relationship counselor and author of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. “Women are more concerned about who they’re going with.”

Just like you had things that were important for you to accomplish before you tied the knot, the same goes for him. You might feel like you’ve ticked everything you need to off your bucket list, but for men it’s about more than just having single experiences, it’s about being prepared for the financial burden of married life.

2. Some guys won’t propose because you’re not “the One.”

Sorry, but it’s true.

The worst thing in the world isn’t hearing a man say, “It’s not you, it’s me,” it’s hearing them say, “It’s not me, it’s you.”

Sometimes men tend to backburner their girlfriends, meaning that he may like you (he may even love you on a good day), but what’s more important to him is that he knows you and feels comfortable with you.

He honestly has no idea whether or not he wants to marry you, and he’s going to do his darnedest to make sure that things stay exactly as they are for however long it benefits him … or until the woman he’s really been waiting for comes along.

Sound familiar? Congratulations, you’ve been back-burnered. And I’m so sorry, because it’s the worst.

It’s being back-burnered that can cause so many women to give the men they are dating an ultimatum about marriage. They too are comfortable, they too could love their boyfriend, but the bigger piece of the puzzle is that they want to get married, and they don’t care who to and they’ve spent the most amount of time with this guy, so why not him?

Being comfortable enough with someone isn’t a reason to propose.

Being happy enough isn’t a reason to propose.

Being together for a long time isn’t a reason to propose.

Marriage is a serious endeavor. It’s a lifelong, legal commitment. And if the two of you can’t even be bothered to do the hard work of studying and working through your own relationship problems, then you probably aren’t equipped for the long haul or for each other.

Sometimes, despite our best intentions and most fervent dreams, things just weren’t meant to be.

3. Some guys won’t propose because they don’t believe in the idea or institution of marriage.

For some men, marriage isn’t necessarily something that you have to do. If they were raised in a religious household or they are religious person themselves, sure, marriage might mean something to them, but there is also a very real likelihood that marriage to him just isn’t something that is as important as forming a loving, long-term commitment outside the bonds of marriage.

For some men, it might be that they dislike the idea of marriage because of how they viewed their own parents’ marriage, or maybe they themselves were married once before and it was a disaster.

Just as you are entitled to your own feelings about marriage, he is entitled to his own feelings about that so-called blessed union.

If marriage is important enough to be a deal-breaker for you, you have an obligation to let your partner know that early and often. Neither one of you should have to compromise when it comes to something so utterly important.

4. He’s overwhelmed by your expectations.

You expect too much of a proposal from him, or he isn’t mature enough to handle them. Either way, it isn’t your fault; It’s social media’s with their huge grand proposals. These expectations are what is blinding him from actually proposing to you.

It’s a fear factor. He doesn’t want to disappoint you. He feels that there’s too much on his plate or there are too many moving parts to the proposal you expect from him, he doesn’t want to mess it up. Therefore if he doesn’t propose, he can’t. 

His friends and family may even be a part of this. They may also be putting extra expectations on him to propose to you or how he should propose to you.

He’s in his head about the whole thing, so the best you can do is to talk about it and let him know anyway he proposes will be perfect. He just has to do it.

5. The two of you haven’t actually talked about it.

If he doesn’t know you want to get married, it will not be on his mind. Don’t expect your partner to be a mind reader. Ultimately, if you want to know why your boyfriend won’t propose, you need to talk to him about it.

Also, Marriage is a life decision, and those need to be openly discussed to understand what each of you wants out of it.

If you are so sure that you want to spend the rest of your life with this man, then you need to get used to talking with him about things that scare you and make you uncomfortable.

Marriage and love aren’t always synonyms, they mean different things to different people and until you talk to your boyfriend you have no real way of knowing where he stands.

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. For more of her work, check out her Tumblr.

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