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What to Do When He Won’t Propose

Updated on September 24, 2018
VVanNess profile image

Victoria is a stay-at-home mom, author, educator, and blogger at Healthy at Home. She currently lives in Colorado with her family.

What to Do When He Won’t Propose
What to Do When He Won’t Propose | Source

For eager women, excited about the prospect of marrying the one they love, the holidays bring almost an unbearable anticipation as everyone knows that the holidays are the most popular time to propose to the one you love.

Especially with such perfect moments coming along, like well-placed mistletoe bunches, grand family dinners, a private Christmas Eve gift exchange, and for those traveling for the holidays, private moments in many a scenic location.

However, as each moment passes unused without a ring to show for it, these women slowly but surely start to lose hope that it will happen and may even give up all hope that a proposal will ever happen.

It is in these moment that desperation, depending on how long one has waited for the moment, will set in and many women will begin the hunt for what to do.

I was there in the hordes of these women myself at one time.

Wow! We were such goobers back then.
Wow! We were such goobers back then. | Source

My Story

At the beginning of our relationship, my boyfriend at the time stated that he was in no rush to get married, as he had just suffered through a divorce a few years earlier. He said that he wanted to take the time to get to know me before jumping in head first again. Curious, we discussed how long of a relationship would be comfortable for him and he jokingly said no more than three years.

Three years!! I was already creeping up on 30. But he said not to worry. It wouldn’t take him that long to know whether or not he wanted to marry me. Well, one year went by happily, with some strain at the one year mark, as this is when his previous wife changed into someone that was abusive and no longer wanted to be with him.

Two years went by much more comfortably as we were still blissfully happy, but I started to get nervous because, after all, it had been two years with no sign of a proposal. This is when I started using hints to find out where he stood and what he was feeling towards the subject.

Two and a half years went by and he still wasn’t comfortable with the idea although he professed to love me. As we were closing in on three years, I thought I would explode. He still didn’t seem ready and I had to bear through another set of holidays with no idea. He had said no more than three years as a joke, and here we were. I knew that I had no desire to be what I called a “forever girlfriend” and spend years upon years at his side without the honor of sharing his name of having the opportunity to have his children.

I sincerely loved him and didn’t want to lose him, but I had to consider my own needs and desires to be married and have children as well. Thanksgiving passed with tons of great opportunities and no ring. Christmas passed as well. I was giving up. Even New Year’s Eve and the ball drop, which was the ideal moment, passed.


The Happy Ending

Then finally on New Year’s Day, we went hiking to start the New Year off right, to be followed by Mexican food and a movie, and it happened. I went to the edge of the cliff for a view and requested a picture be taken, and when I turned around, he was on one knee with a ring in his hand. I don’t think I even responded correctly, as we had had many a discussion, many an argument, and I had all but given up. I think I said, “Are you sure?”

There were extenuating circumstances, of course, that made him anxious to propose, but with the right touches from me, he said that I made him feel more confident about doing what he had wanted to do all along. I want to share some of this advice with you. I can only assume you are in the same situation. You have waited for months and possibly years for this big question, and for some reason it is just not coming.

I want to hopefully enlighten you to what is possibly happening and give you some tips for how to proceed. My husband and I have now been together for ten years, have two beautiful children, and are still blissfully happy. He tells me every day that he is glad he made the decision to propose. I am too!

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Make Sure He's Ready For Commitment

A man that is ready for marriage will be looking for the perfect woman, the right feeling, and the perfect moment. Unfortunately, not many men are “ready” for marriage. In a man’s world, there are so many influencing factors that may affect whether or not he is “ready.”


He will be looking to his friends first. Are they all still single and want him to go out and party with them? Or are they all finding the one and settling down? This will make a big difference.


His financial situation will also be a big decider. A man ultimately, deep down, wants to be able to provide for any family he takes part in creating. Is he unemployed or stuck in various part-time positions that will get him nowhere? Is he even able to pay his bills or is he relying on you for financial help? Although the area in which he chooses to work does not matter, whether he’s able to pay his bills AND provide for a family does.

Personal Life

Another huge area of importance is his personal life. By this I mean, are there any huge problems he is trying to sort out right now that may keep him from being interested in settling down? Is he going through a bankruptcy, foreclosure, or reposition? What about a huge court battle, a family issue, or a serious illness? He’ll likely want to sort this out first before making a decision to bring you into it.


The Never Marrying Type

Just because you have been together for a while doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s ready to get married, or ever will be. There are even some guys out there that abhor the idea of marriage and will never be okay with the convention. Sorry. The likelihood that you fall in love and have a fruitful relationship with one of these guys is very low though.

Not Ready Yet

Some men will want to get married eventually but just not now. Maybe they feel like they haven’t experienced enough, partied enough, or gotten enough adventure out of their systems yet. But that doesn’t mean they can’t do all of those things with you by their side.

The Decision You Have to Make

This one is going to highly depend on you, but if many years have gone by and he still doesn’t feel like he’s ready, you may want to reconsider your efforts. You have to keep your own needs and desires in mind as well. If a family is what you want, and that doesn’t seem like a possibility with this guy, you may want to jump ship now and spare yourself the added heartache. (Cosmopolitan)

There are a number of great things to look for in a man to know whether or not he is “ready” to settle down. Let’s look at some of them.

The Capacity to Love

Saying that he loves you is one thing, but showing you is something completely different.

It’s easy to say any words you need to in order to get what you want from another, but real love takes work. Does he take the time to communicate with you about how he feels and include you in big decisions with respect? Does he put your needs before his, even when this means sacrifice on his part?

Love means accepting another person, unconditionally, for who they are and not who you’d like them to be. It means making an effort to connect with another person, and be understanding and patient, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Finally, does he fight for your relationship, wishing to work on your problems and differences rather than giving up? This will be the ultimate sign that he is ready for a bigger commitment.

If you are worried that you may not exude all of these qualities in your own relationship, I’ve got a couple of invaluable books you should read. I loved them myself! Check out Your Knight in Shining Armor and I Kissed Dating Goodbye. These two books helped my immensely when I was searching for my mate, and I really think they will help you too!


He Truly Believes in Commitment

A man’s actions in your relationship will tell you how he truly feels about a long term commitment.Does he treat you as a partner or an enemy? Does he use the words “we” and “our” when talking to others about your relationship?

A man that wishes to have a long term commitment will talk of the future, even if he is just making plans with you for a camping trip next summer. He will also want to talk about you to others. Does he talk about you positively with his friends and co-workers? Does he truly enjoy being in a relationship with you?

Finally, if he truly desires a commitment with you, even if in the future a ways, he will talk about it. Do you ever talk about the future together? Do you discuss each of your desires for a wedding, a home, or a family? If all of this is true, and especially if you have been together for at least 6 months to a year, there’s a good chance that he desires that future to be with you.

He's Sure He Can Be What You Want

Many relationships are full of expectations, on both parts. Just as both parties have expectations for the one person they choose to spend the rest of their lives with, there are other expectations as well. As we are focusing on why a man might not propose and what to do about it, we will focus on his side.

Many women have certain expectations for how they want to live (the need for a big house, fancy clothes, and expensive jewelry is a man’s biggest fear). They also know what married life should be like, and what kind of wedding they want.

Even if you have not expressed any desires that may intimidate your significant other, many of these may be assumed on his part, scaring him away from proposing. A man wants to be “the man” in his relationship for his partner. More than anything in the world, he wants respect and admiration from the woman in his life, which means meeting her expectations, real or assumed.

If a man doesn’t feel like he can meet her expectations, or feel like he will let her down, he may not be willing to put himself out there and make himself vulnerable to her at the risk of his pride. According to the National Marriage Project, 47% of men agree that they wouldn’t want to get married until they could afford to own a home, and 40% would want to be able to afford a nice wedding. (Cosmopolitan)

We will discuss how to possibly fix this if you feel that this is how he might be thinking. In the meantime, before you make any big decisions, let’s drop a few hints to find out how he is feeling. You might find out that it is something much more simple than you were expecting.


Try to Drop Hints to Gauge His Feelings About Marriage

Keep in mind before we continue that by dropping hints I don’t mean leaving pictures of engagement rings all over the house and emailing him links to jewelers. What I am suggesting is much more subtle and in an effort to understand him, not push him into proposing to make you happy.

Let him see you as "wife material."

Check out some of the great books I've recommended like I've Kissed Dating Goodbye and Your Knight in Shining Armor, gain a new perspective, and you’ll see how important it is to BE the person you want to see in a spouse. It’s likely that he is looking for the same characteristics in you.

If you want him to see you as a wife, you will need to exude all of those same characteristics you are looking for. Are you looking for ambition? What are you striving for in your life? Are you looking for trust? Are you a trustworthy person?

If he can’t see you as someone he will want to spend the rest of his life wife, you will never see that ring. You may even consider finding out what is important to him in a married relationship. What is he expecting in his wife? A good housekeeper? Someone good with finances? Or maybe even someone that loves children?

However, by no means do I suggest that you become someone that you are not naturally. If you find out that being what he wants in a wife is not for you, you may never need that proposal from him.


Mention your future together

You might consider subtly bringing up the future with him. This could mean gentle comments about what you are looking forward to or one day hope for like, “One day, I hope to have children of my own,” or “I would love to get a big house together one day.”

You could even bring up a discussion about what he thinks about any number of subjects that are based on being together in marriage, like “Where do you think we’ll be living in 5 years?” or “How do you feel about splitting the holidays between your family and mine after we get married?”

Moments will likely arrive, and probably already have, in conversation where you will want to make a statement or ask a question in regards to marriage, children, future career choices, decisions on a home, or even a big decision on a purchase that will relate to marriage or a future with him.

Take the opportunity to ask it, but try not being pushy about a response from him. After all, you are trying to find out how he feels and gauge his marriage readiness. Just watch for his reaction when you discuss the future. See if he carries the conversation forward or if he avoids the subject altogether.

If you don't want an expensive ring, mention it

As many perfectly ready men don’t propose because they are worried about being able to afford an expensive engagement ring, if you don’t need something expensive, or don’t want a ring at all, this will be important information for him to know. I don’t suggest coming out and saying it to him though. You’ll have to be a little easier, or it could be considered being extremely pushy. Bring it up at the right time, and gently.

For me, when we saw a girl with a huge ring, this was the perfect time for me to say “I would never want anything like that. I’m perfectly okay with a single smaller stone.” I mentioned how I wouldn’t want a weapon on my finger that might hurt the children that I taught in my first grade classroom.

My husband actually told me after he proposed that he would have popped the question at least six months earlier if he thought he had found the right ring. He felt like he had to buy me something better than he had his ex-wife (but thank goodness my mom ended up giving him a family heirloom to propose with that he felt was worthy).

What to Do When He Won’t Propose
What to Do When He Won’t Propose | Source

If you don't want an expensive wedding, mention it

Just as men worry about the cost of the ring, so do they worry that they won’t be able to afford the grand wedding you surely want. This might be a great way to talk about your dreams for a wedding so he knows where you stand and can open the channel for wedding conversation. “If you were to get married, what would you want for . . .”

Address his fears

At some point in time, you’ll know where he stands. I learned that he was worried that the same thing would happen with me as happened in his last marriage, and everything would be great until the moment we walked down the aisle.

I had my own fears as well. For us, it turned out that we turned to counseling because I truly wanted to make this work. It turned out that not only did we learn a great deal about each other that still helps us today, my efforts to make the relationship work and my willingness to address my own weaknesses and grow are the main reasons he decided to let go of his fears and propose.

Consider Your Motivations

I would not do anything until you have considered your own reasons for wanting to get married. Just the desire to get married, a worry about being alone, or even wanting the ring or the status of being married for your reputation are not good reasons for marriage. In fact, jumping into something as serious as marriage for the wrong reasons can cause huge problems in the future for both of you.

If you are motivated for the right reasons (love) but you are not pursuing a proposal because you are concerned that the man you love may not want to spend the rest of his life with you, you are setting up the both of you for disaster.

Imagine fighting, living with someone you don’t like, sleeping in the same bed with someone you despise, or even worse, having to sleep with someone you don’t like. Worst of all, imagine having to suffer through a divorce. Why wouldn’t you want to take your time and find the right person the first time?

Marriage is a relationship. It’s a partnership, someone to stand beside, and someone to share all of the good times and bad times with for life. I promise, if this is someone you are already struggling to make decisions with, having mother problems with, constantly fighting with, etc., you do not want to commit to this for the rest of your life.

I love two books, that my husband and I actually read together, that discuss the idea that marriage can be tough, but it ultimately makes us better people together and individually. You should check out Covenant Marriage by Gary Chapman and Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas. Marriage can be amazing and miraculous, but especially during rough times, it takes effort and understanding.

These books may clear up some questions for you and make you more clear on your feelings about marriage. If you like to read, this is going to be great, but I've noticed that a great many wonderful books are what we have found to pull us through tough times in our marriage. We can sit in bed and read together at night or during dinner and talk about what we've read. Not only does the simple act of doing something together and discussing it help to bring us closer, but we learn something important about our marriage together.

What to Do When He Won’t Propose
What to Do When He Won’t Propose | Source

If you have a good relationship, obviously don’t ruin it by pushing, nagging, or becoming someone you don’t want to be just to get married. You may just scare him away altogether.

If you love him and want to marry him, treat him with caution, understanding, and respect. Seek to better understand him, address his fears and help him to feel more confident in choosing you as a mate and walking down that aisle.

However, if like me, you reach a point where your own fears, insecurities and concerns for your own future take over, make sure he knows how you feel. It doesn’t help to threaten him, yell at him, or start another fight, but he needs to know.

This is how my “boyfriend” and I ended up in Marriage Counseling with a wonderful lady that understood our circumstances, challenged us both individually without favoring one side or another, and helped us to better understand each of our fears.

She never gave her opinion on whether or not we should marry, but only helped us to reach a better understanding of each other’s needs and desires. By gauging his readiness for marriage, seeking to better understand him, and considering my own motivations, we both felt better about everything, and he proposed!!

Today he still says that he felt silly about his fears, but he was glad that he pushed them aside and gave marriage another chance. Good luck! I know it will happen for you in the right time!

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© 2014 Victoria Van Ness


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