How long to stay in relationship

How Long Is Too Long to Stay in a Relationship that Isn’t Moving Forward?

I just heard about a young woman who ended a 10 year relationship with her college sweetheart. She wanted to get married. He just couldn’t commit. I was shocked. Ten years.

It reminds me of the movie He’s Just Not That Into You where Jennifer Aniston finally breaks up with her boyfriend of 7 years (Ben Affleck) after he tells her that he doesn’t want to marry. That story has a happy ending, when Ben overcomes his nuptial fears and proposes to Jennifer. Real life stories usually don’t end so well.

I know that what I’m about to tell you is probably going to be really harmful to a lot of women, but I believe in being totally honest with my readers, so here goes.

I personally know several couples who dated for five years or more and finally did get married (and are still happily married).

Why is this harmful?

Because I might have just given women stuck in dead end relationships which will never lead to marriage the false hope that they too will be one of those success stories, and the motivation (or excuse) to hang in their for another couple of years (or more).

Ladies, before you get too excited let me tell you two things about those success stories:

1. The women involved went through hell for years.

I can only imagine the frustration and pain they constantly had to suffer as year after year flew by with nothing more to show for than some I love you’s and promises of impending engagement, as they watched their friends walk down the wedding aisle one by one. Can you handle that pain, day after day, for years?

2. The women eventually gave their men a choice: marry me or lose me.

And they were serious. They cut their guys off, cold turkey, no making up, getting back together, trying again. No more. It worked.

Learn your lesson from these gals. If you’re in a relationship with a man who is unable to ask for your hand in marriage, you have two choices:

1. hang in there and hope he comes to his senses.

2. break up with him.

If you choose curtain option number one, you will join the legions of frustrated and disappointed who have made the same choice, and eventually find yourself back on the dating scene, scarred, bitter, and several years older competing against a whole new crop of young, bubbly, playmates. If you are in your mid thirties, staying in a dead end relationship could be socially, and maternally, suicidal.

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My advice is to choose option two and break up.

Yes it’s scary. What happens if he doesn’t come back? Well, I hate to tell you this, but if he doesn’t come back he would never have married you anyway.

How long does it take a man to know he wants to marry you?

That’s a tough question to answer because every person, and every relationship, is different. For some guys the magic number is a few as 3 to 6 months. For others it might be a year or more.

After a year, a guy should have a pretty good idea of who you are and whether he wants to be with you for the long haul. There might be extenuating circumstances why he’s not ready to pop the questions, but he should know if the required feelings are there or not.

What if he just needs more time? (more than the baseline you’ve set)

Fair enough.

Set a time frame that is reasonable for YOU. Unless the guy is in the middle of med school (or the equivalent), he shouldn’t need more than 6 months to at least make a very clear commitment to marry you in the near future. If it doesn’t happen by your one year anniversary, I’d say it’s time to “go on now go, walk out the door”.

Being engaged for years is no solution either. I can’t see a good reason to be engaged for more than a few months or for as long as it takes to plan your perfect wedding. More about long engagements coming soon.

So how long is too long?

I think anything over a year. If you can’t get clarity by then, chances are extremely high that it will never happen. And by the way, the same applies to guys dating girls that won’t commit. If a woman can’t commit to marrying you now, she almost definitely never will.

How long do you think is too long? Have you been in a long relationship that ended well? Badly? You can share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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69 replies
  1. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    Looking at the comments, so many women hang on for YEARS. Its desperate behaviour. Why hasnt someone else swooped in??? I know when I was dating, if my now husband had not engaged me some other man was ready to take his spot quickly. I had several suitors interested. Are you afraid you wont find anyone else??? Why fo you stay for years and put up with nonsense without any commitment? Commitment is not living together by the way, most likely if you are unmarried and living with a grown man you are helping him pay bills. Girlfriends are for sex and paying bills …

  2. Mike
    Mike says:

    Oh my lord. This writer is basically saying if the guy doesn’t propose in 1-2 years, the girl should leave? It becomes more about getting engaged and married because that is the society expectation, to put on a show, to prove yourself to everyone else around you. You shouldn’t care when other friends are running off to get married. Be happy for them. It’s not a competition. The writer Completely ignores the actual relationship and the two people inside of it. Are they happy, are they loving,
    do they want the same things and can they communicate. To me, marriage Is a lovely idea, but it will only work if both people are ready and want it. They also need to know who this person is. In my opinion, you don’t really know that person until you’ve lived and been tougher for 4-5 years. People get married after 1-2 years and realize in a few years they have a problem. You also need to be prepared to be married when things are hard, not fun, when one or both are down, or facing hardship. Talk about how you would both handle and communicate during fights, infidelity, in-laws and friend obstacles. Money and job loss or gain. Children. Houses and vacations and careers. How does the person treat other people they once cared about, but now hate or abandoned? Because everything is great when you’re “in love”. Once the list fades, are they really that loyal and caring and kind? People leave a marriage or stray because they get bored, they lose attraction to their partner, their self esteem drops. They feel stuck. They want to start over because it’s easier. I truly only think a small percentage is capable of finding someone similar and successfully navigating it long term. Let alone on the first try. Look at divorce rate, and the couples who are actually happy after 10-30 years. I would instead advise common-law. Perhaps less romantic, but far more practical.

    • Sarah
      Sarah says:

      After 12 months, she must absolutely leave if theres no ring !!! A woman has a shorter window than a man if she wants a family, and she must not waste time!!! If she was his dream girl he would be dying to marry her. Dump him so you can find your husband. He had a whole year

  3. HD
    HD says:

    I agree that a year is long enough to have an idea as to whether or not the relationship is going anywhere or not. You have a sense of compatibility after one year – doesn’t mean you need to get married right then and there but taking the next step should at least come up in a serious conversation. many people waste their time on partners who string them along then are disappointed when they get older and life doesn’t turn out as expected or hoped. If someone can’t decide if you are the one they want to be with after one year, why waste your time. Move on to the next until you find someone who is head over heals for you. The point of dating is just that – date then move on if it doesn’t seem like a good fit for long-term. Life is too short!!

  4. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    “Common-law is as good as Married” is the biggest lie you will ever hear. It’s a myth. Research the laws in your jurisdiction. There’s a reason why most men don’t want to make it “Legal”. The wording “legal” should set off alarm bells and red flags.
    Married couples are partnerships where it’s assumed 50/50 (baseline) in separation. 100% in the unfortunate event of death. The same can’t be assumed in a common law relationship. And news flash…relationships always have an end. Either through separation or death. Common-law status doesn’t guarantee property rights. If your name isn’t on the title, it’s not your house. And you’re not entitled to half (in separation) or all (in the event of death). The same goes for other shared assets, insurance and retirement savings. You run the risk of losing everything you’ve spent your life building.
    If you’re happy with waiting it out for a proposal or even content to be in a common law relationship…be smart. Go get a cohabitation agreement. You can find free templates online. Get a free consult from a lawyer. Talk to a financial advisor.
    At least, if or when the time comes to walk away you get back what you put in or what you brought into the relationship. (i.e. if you helped with a down payment on a house or paid half his mortgage)
    Don’t be afraid to have a conversation about money, property and your legal rights to shared assets. If you truly are in a loving relationship then your partner will make sure your future is financially secure. Relationships are partnerships. Make sure you’re in an equitable one. If your partner bulks at the idea of negotiating a cohabitation agreement then he’s using you. Trust me you’ll find out very quickly whether his intentions are genuine and if you have a future together.

  5. Susan
    Susan says:

    We have been dating almost three years we have been living together for two years . He bought me a nice diamond
    ring for Christmas but didn’t propose said it was (you belong to me ring ) . I brought up marriage he says he wants too in the future but doesn’t know when . He was married 16 years divorced 5 , I brought marriage back up to him and he got angry and said he doesn’t know why I’m so admit about getting married he was _ _ _ _ by his first marriage . I told him that wasn’t me he is 49 and I’m 47 that he if we weren’t going to marry I was moving out .he told if I leave I wasn’t coming back . I feel he is never going to marry me he got the ring so I would stay longer because I told him when we moved in I wasn’t shacking up forever. I love him so much but I deserve the security of marriage /

  6. Mia
    Mia says:

    Just 1 year? I honestly don’t think that’s enough :/ I’m 25, have been with my boyfriend for almost 3 years, and we were best friends even before that, and I’m still not ready for marriage, and neither is he. I want to marry him, in the future sure. But maybe in 4 years or something. One year is definitely not enough for people to get engaged. The honeymoon phase of a relationship lasts up to 26 months in most cases. You should probably wait for that to pass first so you can see your relationship clearly before getting engaged.

    • Sarah
      Sarah says:

      Wait another 4 years, and its much more difficult to find a good man in your 30s. Plus, if you want children you would have to rush then. For men, the opposite. Good luck

  7. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    I have been in a 16 year relation ship with a man. I am 48 and he is 38 he has helped raise my 4 kids all boys.. since my youngest was 2yrs old he is now 16 will be 17 in june
    We have been in a commited relationship the whole 16 years. His mother passed 3 years ago but we are the best of friends. We communicate well we have lived together for 15 years sex is great as well. Everyone who knows us says we are the perfect couple they never see us fight. We do have our moments but never go to sleep without making up. We tell each other we love each other daily. Since we have been together he has always said one day hes going to marry me. But he wants to wait until he gets a job and have money. He has not held a job down in 13 years and hasnt even looked for a job in 13 years. My thing is if you really wanted to marry me that would be the encouragement needed for you to get a job if that’s what is holding you back. So now he finally got a job last week after 14 years of not trying to get one. I dont know if this will enable him to feel more like a man able to support his family now. And soon he will pop the question with in a year. Or what to think. I mean why sit around and not look for a job for 13 years if that is the reason. Was he afraid of change like he wouldnt keep the job or was he too comfortable not working for so long. At the same time losing his mother and grandmother 3 years ago. I have never questioned his faithfulness. We are inseparable we are always together. I have gave him ultamadoms before telling him I’m not going to wait too much longer because so many years have passed and still nothing. And I want my kids to know this is what you do when you love each other for do long you get married. When I told him this and held him to it. And didnt see any progress i threatened to leave. He begged me not to leave him he said he doesn’t want to be with anyone else ever and he wants to grow old together and be with me until the day he dies. I’m so confused. If you have any input or suggestions I’d appreciate your feedback

    • Melissa
      Melissa says:

      We share everything together bank account etc. We dont separate our money at all. We dont hide anything from each other. We love each other like we are newly weds we have always been very close. Sometimes I think maybe he is too comfortable and afraid if we make it legal somehow things may change like if it’s not broke dont fix it. But I think alot about if something was to happen to me and I passed he would be able to collect benefits from me him and my 16 year old. I have a blood clotting disorder and you never know what may happen and I just want the reassurance that if something was to happen my kids and him will be alright financially.

    • Haith
      Haith says:

      Melissa, this sounds like my dad and his girlfriend. They’ve been together for 20 years and still hasn’t popped the question. He’s comfortable and knows that whenever he needs her she’s right there! Very covenant to him because she caters to his every need. Emotionally, financially etc. Why leave a comfortable situation and she’s not complaining. He still goes out and does what he wants. (i mean because really he can) He hasn’t made any full commitments to her. He’s had plenty of side relationships that to this day she doesn’t even know about. Some want their cake and eat it too! Not being negative about your situation. Just giving a real example. He even told me himself that he probably won’t marry her! He did mention his interest in marriage with Another female he’s only known for about a year or two. I’ve been with mine bf for 11 years so i do understand the frustration!

    • Susie Q
      Susie Q says:

      Why has he not held a job in 13 years? Is he disabled? Was he in prison at some point? Is he uneducated or lacking in skills, or motivation? I fail to see why a young man did not hold a job from age 24 to 38? I am glad he helped you raise your children, but honestly, what kind of role model is this man you love so much – I take it you supported all of you these last 13 years? A relationship is a two-way street, and I am not sure what you see in him if he didn’t even have the motivation to go out and earn a living while you brought home the bacon. I would rather have sex once a month and have a man who cares enough about me to not mooch off me than someone who bangs me every night.

  8. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    Our 20th “anniversary ” is coming up in June. I am 50 and he will be turning 50. He basically raised my four children (all grown and gone), we share a home (in his name only), he is very well off financially, I’ve been able to stay at home for the past 15 years after giving up a very successful career and he put an amazing ring on my finger about 15 years ago (with no proposal). I asked him last summer why he didn’t want to marry me and after a short time he said that he did want to, but he wanted it to be a surprise. He wanted to have the whole thing planned, have the kids there and even pick out my dress and have it there. About a week later I told my daughter about this and she told me that that was a load of crap, that she’s the one that said those things and he told her no because that’s not what I would want. I feel like he pulled the quickest thing he could out of his hat to pacify me.
    I have felt so ugly, fat, undesirable and not worthy for so long that I’ve forgot what it feels like to feel normal.
    I dont want anything big or fancy for a wedding, I want the commitment of a marriage, it is more than a piece of paper to me.
    I could do the whole “let’s set a date or get out thing”, but I have NOTHING. I have no job, my skills are way outdated, I’m 50, absolutely no income or any place to go, although there was a time I wanted to leave and he did say that I could keep my car that’s in his name. And there is no common law in my state. But that’s not the point. I love my boyfriend and I want a life with him, but I feel like the reason he doesnt want to get married is because I’m not good enough or maybe he just cant handle the thought of total commitment to just me. I also wonder if theres someone else. 20 years is such a long time to just get up and walk away from, but how many more years do I get robbed from me?

    • Kathy
      Kathy says:

      Go get a cohabitation agreement ASAP. Since you’re not married you’re not entitled to any property or assets. This includes retirement savings or life insurance (unless you’re the listed beneficiary) Even if you’ve financially contributed to the mortgage or the purchase of those assets…legally it’s not yours. If a man ever says “I love you but why make it legal?” RUN!!! This person does not love you but is protecting his property and assets while having the benefit of his partner paying for something they will never own. Common-law is NOT as good as married. Know your rights or you will find yourself broke, homeless and used. Also, make sure you draft a will together. I suggest doing some research, speaking to lawyer who will give you a free consult and also a financial advisor. This is your future. You deserve security regardless of your relationship status.

  9. triste
    triste says:

    ok, I think my situation is a little different, but in the same vein. I’ve been with mine for 16 years, I’m 56, he’s 61, we both have kids, they are now grown (his was grown when we met). I will say he was in my kids lives most of their growing up years. when we started dating. I was never interested in getting married, neither was he. We both own our own homes. but he lives about 15 miles up the road from us. it was wonderful, I was about raising my kids, (their dad passed away, so no father in the picture) He didn’t want to push himself into their lives in that spot. He has always been there for them, and for me. I have no doubts he’s 100% committed to our relationship. Over the course of the 16 years, he’s given me “promise” rings, we always assumed we’d get married one day. (when my kids are older, when more bills are paid off, all the standard reasons)
    Well, here we are, kids are all grown and moved out. We are both retired, houses paid off, settled in life. and he still lives about 15 miles down the road.. We travel together, we do things all the time, we are committed. but as we get older, it is clear, we aren’t married, if something happens to one of us, the other is out of the picture. I have a large house in a nice area, he lives in a small place in a not so nice neighborhood. I’ve tried to get him to move in with me, he won’t. We’ve talked about selling what each of us have and buying a place together. Thats not happening either. I can see us continuing on like this for the rest of our lives. I don’t want that. My thought is that if we are going to live apart, at least get that “piece of paper” to protect the other. (we have joint vehicles, and things we’ve bought together that are in one house or the other) Or at least move in together so that we each have a “leg to stand on” if something happens. If I were to pass, my kids would take care of him and look out for him. on the other hand, if it were him, his daughter wouldn’t even let me in the hospital/funeral. Just the way she is.
    I hate that our time together is now getting to something like this. we could do a will, (I have one, listing my wishes and who gets what, including him) he refuses. doesn’t want to think he might someday die.
    So what do we do? I don’t want to live alone the rest of my life. he doesn’t want anything to change. I have no desire to not be with him, but I don’t want to do this forever either.. so now what?

  10. Alice
    Alice says:

    How dare you give this advise to people. You sound like an 17 year old girl with unrealistic expectations of love. After ONE YEAR you expect a guy to be ready to propose. That is RIDICULOUS. Anyone reading this blog please don’t take any advice from this idiot.


    I’ve been in my relationship for 7 years and I came into this relationship with my 2 year old daughter she is now 9. He keeps saying that we’ll get engaged by the end of the year but it hasn’t happened yet. This has been good to me the last 2 years. Or he’ll tell me that we’ll get married once we get a house(we did) once we fully move in(we did). Now it’s “I was planning on getting engaged by the end of the year”. I’m confused. I don’t know if he’s in this relationship for me or because he’s so attached to my daughter that he looks at as his daughter. I know I’m unhappy because I want to get married and I was to start having more kids. He asked me what did I want yesterday and I said I wanted to get married. His response was well I want the $7000 that you owe me, so we’re both not getting what we want. What am I supposed to do with that??? I honestly think he’s going to use that money I owe him a way to keep from proposing to me. Do I walk away, and move in with my mother? Do I walk away from him and go through the emotional???😭

    • crystal Sadger
      crystal Sadger says:

      Wow you are together so you shouldnt owe him money. Thiugh I feel your situation. Inhave 3 kids one with autism. Been together with my man almost 7 years now. Just made the comment today about wanting to get married but would be weird without a biological kid between us. I cant have more kids. Indont work he does though he had a whole year off last year. Jib let him go just as we wrmere starting to look at houses. Always said house first then marriage. But now he is thinking about his fiance from years ago who told him her oldest is probably his. They were you d and forced to break up when her parents found religion and married her off to someone. We just had a fight recently and I told him it feels like he doesnt want this. I think he loves us but is not able to handle the autism much anymore and he doesn’t like we cant get alot of couple time together without kids. If he leaves or I decided to end it I would have no way to survive without him. I love him and u know he loves us just maybe not enough to be happy…

  12. Tami
    Tami says:

    Hi, Similar situation only I seem to be the oldest. I’m 60 my boyfriend is 59 and been dating almost 4 yrs now. At this age you look at relationships much differently, no thought of having kids, you already have reached many of lifes goals and yu know what your in for etc. From our initial meeting we shared our individual desires for the furure and that ultimately marriage was what we both were seeking, we made tha pack that if either knew it was not going in that direction we would be honest with each other. These past 4 years we have endured many of life’s worst events losing a parent, having to put a parent in care, job loss, home loss to name a few but we’ve made it through all that together. But for me the time has come and for marraige, it is a commitment and one I respect that means far more than just being a “girlfriend”. I never want to be the women that gives an ultimatum and I believe you just can’t. However, at this point my feelings have started going in “protection mode” shutting down mentally and phsically causing me to pull away. We have both been married prior many years ago, I have no children and him 2 grown girls, we both own our own homes and it is a long distance relationship. We live in the best of both worlds but he wants 90% of it to be in his, he wants me living there most of the time but I am aiding my recently widowed father who lives near me. I have no issue being apart for periods of time but he wants someone there all the time. This aging parent situation can and most likely will come up in most peoples lives (married or not) and you deal with it as best you can and there is no time line to go by. No real hope of marraige to me is a deal breaker and he knows this yet he says he is committed he feels married, it’s just not the same for me. This weekend I brought it up and he says he wants to spend the rest of his life with me but has several conflicting reasons for not moving forward to engagement. I said “at this point you should know what you truly want and you need to let me move on if marraige is not your intention”. I believe he just keeps me hoping and I am getting beyond frustrated I have had a few dates of ending the relationship including this weekend but I keep giving more time hoping for a different outcome. Talk some sense into me.

    • 12 years waiting
      12 years waiting says:

      I read one time that if a man already feels married to u then he wont marry u! I want to say walk away cause if he feels that way then he wont let u go to far for very long!

  13. Lucy Smith
    Lucy Smith says:

    Hi, advice needed!! I’m driving myself crazy thinking!!
    I’ve been with my boyfriend for 4 years, after 18 months I relocated to his area and sold everything from my house. I moved to an area where I don’t know anyone and to me that was a huge commitment and leap of faith. We can’t have children and don’t need to buy a house so I want a commitment back and that is marriage. However he says he wants to get married but no ring yet. We argue all the time about it as I feel so let down and in a one sided commitment relationship. But he says I’m adding pressure and stress by keep talking about it. My head is ready to explode, so I stay and wait but actually it’s tainted now anyway or do I walk away and know my self worth. I’m very happy generally but can’t get the not being married out of my head or at least waiting and waiting

  14. Vera
    Vera says:

    Hi, I’ve been in a 3 year relationship with a man. I met him Summer 2016 and moved in April 2017 and have a life together, share everything. I have a 4 year old son from my ex, and he got one too. our relationship is very good, I’d say we are rarely fight or have some arguments, he treats me and my son very well like its his own. the problem is I want to get marry, and he doesn’t. I did once talk to him about it last year and he said I won’t marry you this year, next year, or in 2 years. I was so sad what I heard, but I love him way too much. then i decided to stay, and waiting a little bit more. but I dunno how long I have to wait. is it too early to ask him about this?

  15. DAA
    DAA says:


    My apologies for being so self centered and not commenting on the issue at hand.

    First and foremost I say to every woman you are a Queen, now being a Lady is your choice.(LOL). We must know who we are and what we want when going and ina relationship. I believe timing is everything and I do NOT believe in rushing a man, but do know when a man is delaying you. We know delay does not always mean denial, but in this situation you may want to believe it is.

    Ultimatums do not work, you want to be loved and married by choice not force. AND remember it is NOT always a bad thing to be rejected BC more times than less, it is a blessing in disguise that we could not see. God bless each and ever relationship and person!!

  16. DAA
    DAA says:

    I have been in a 3-year committed relationship which has been good, not perfect. We both have many faults, but my guy is the most loving and kindest guy I have ever met. (He is “My sweet loving migraine headache”). I have had more downs than ups since we have been together, in all areas and by the grace of God this man has been there for me every step of the way, especially when I was and do get sick, he treats me like a new born baby. Actually, that us my problem and fear is that he treats me like a baby and Queen and I am so spoiled!

    Ok to the real stuff, he wants to get married and at least get engaged now, but I just want to leave things as they are BC I am afraid he is going to change once married. (No more spoiling then). I know and believe that God has sent him to me and we pray together daily, but when he annoys me I go home and say that is why I am not marrying you. We did live together for a 1.5 yrs which I really enjoyed and we spend EVERY night together. I cannot imagine my life without my BFF, but also I want to put engagement and marriage on hold; AND we are not young. I am 53 and he is 66 (we just look and act VERY YOUNG)!

    I would just like to date for a couple more years to make sure. Yes, I am somewhat confused, but he says he is willing to wait BC he had to WORK SO HARD to get me in the 1st place and NOT only loves me but in love with me too!

  17. Brie
    Brie says:

    Although I understand everyone’s situation is different, there’s some real problems central to to this topic, and particularly to the way information is conveyed so I’ll try to help as least some folks. First, and I’ll keep this part short, the article itself needs to take a step back from it’s position as it can lead readers into some false assumptions and possibly scare some people. To begin, a part of the title of this article, “relationship that isn’t moving forward” leads us to assume marriage is THE vehicle to move a relationship forward (based on the content, it’s hard to argue otherwise). Whoa, there. Secondly, time is not THE indicator of a good, bad, or “dead” relationship. I personally know a couple who has seen people marry and divorce while they were still dating long time. This is to say, marriage isn’t the fix or cure. And it seems that if we all step back and look at the comments, marriage, or the idea of it, is really what’s antagonizing most of the commenters. Will saying “I do” make it all better? Will it really be forever? Look up marriage/divorce rates and come to your own conclusion. I’m not anti-marriage, but I don’t particularly like the way marriage (the thing that brings us together) in several cases actually works to tear people who would otherwise be happy apart. Finally, the “curtain options.” It’s obvious they aren’t really presented as options, but as points for persuading you to break up if you’re in a long term relationship without a commitment for marriage. Agree or disagree, if you like; however, the ultimatum is probably not a healthy option because nothing screams let’s start a life together than “marry me or else…” Beautiful. I digress, and at the same time apologize for what might be considered ripping at the article. I just want to make a point that it seems to unfairly in my opinion indicate to readers the health of a long term (yes, even many years) is centered around marriage.

    To cut to the quick of it, think about how marriage is being discussed and in what way and find out what it means or doesn’t mean to the other person. No one is immoral for believing in marriage, nor are they for not believing in it. And in the end, YOU decide what you’re willing to accept or not. Are you happy without the “I do”? How much do you need that? If a lot, then leave. If you’re still hanging around, then you can live with it and so move on. If you want to leave, but feel stuck then this isn’t the right article (look for getting out of bad relationship articles). Again, apologies for the “tough love” approach, but I’m seeing a lot of finger pointing. Is it all them? Look, many counselors will task you with what your role and responsibility is in the problem when they see a lot of one-sided arguments. Some of my friends in the field note that the more saintly the complainer make themselves sound, the more skeptical they become about the real story, even when the person totally believes it. I’m seeing traces of anger, resentment, and even a bit of withdrawal as a way to cope. That also projects both ways and will likely get neither of you to your goal.

    Two last considerations, some folks just aren’t the marrying type. BUT, don’t take that to mean that they aren’t devoted, loving, or that they would act any different than a married couple would. Also, I have to tell the non-marrying type to equally not hold anything against those that place a emphasis on marriage. I’ve know some people who get really frustrated, even hurt, that their value as a partner is based on “a paper” as one poster put it. They call marriage old fashioned, institutionalized, an ritual of dressing up to state what is already known, and they complain that laws, religion, and taxing practices unfairly privilege the concept of marriage. There’s some merit to this and vise-versa, but I don’t think it’s fair for them to label people who mutually want marriage as problematic in these ways either.I suppose the point is that there’s always another point of view that goes beyond just selfishness.

    All in all, if you lasted 7, 10, or more years, you can probably make it without formal marriage (some folks have common law), and many of you may in fact statistically have outlasted a great number of marriages, as cold and blunt as that sounds. Not to be a downer, but if you’re reading/posting to this article with the intent to confirm you’re on the “right” side of the argument or as ammo to convince your significant other in a debate, then you have to know you’re already headed towards the wrong side of that rate, even if you do succeed in persuading or forcing marriage. And to boot, articles and comments sections of these sorts may initially be intended for answers but they tend to quickly become ways to glorify your position over your partner’s (whose voice isn’t even present here)…which isn’t right on your part if you let it get that far (tough love, forgive me). For some, this might come as a new or different way to look at the conversation. For others, they have already made up their mind. And that’s the crux. How open are we or aren’t we, and in what ways?

  18. Ember Rain
    Ember Rain says:

    I’ve been with my boyfriend for 7 years. I was honest on our first date about having to pay for getting pregnant. I told him I dont want to live with someone who would be around my kids then leave, their dad is not around. On one yr he have me a promise ring saying he would marry me. Years later he said it was a promise he would always love me. He now refuses to even answer me if I ask about future plans. He is always on his phone but doesnt respond to me. We are 7 yrs in our relationship and when I say I respect any decision he makes and still nothing. We dont go out on dates unless its weeks after my birthday. When he works out of town (where he stays in hotels) and managed all women employees, I would hear from him for days. I’ve worked very hard to pay Bill’s to relieve stress and I feel he is so secretive and that’s why he gets mad. He says at least we helped eachother if anything. I left a bad relationship prior to him. And he knows that. And every time I fix a reason why he will even say we are committed and will make it through anything (not necessarily marriage) he makes another reason. I just want closure and let him go. Or to be told we got this and move forward. He gets defensive if I wear certain clothes now where as before he was so sweet and charming. Im not accepted on his social media and any little thing sets him off. I know I’ll be told contact a counselor but I need all the money I have because one of my children needs care for their cancer remission. How do I ask what he wants without causing anger? He only has said it depends on of we get along. But he gets mad so easily now. Any suggestions help because im at the point to where I don’t know what to do or how to act I give him space and work full time stay business and ask how I can make things better. He has no kids but when I offered to pay to have one he chose other things. He is in his late 30s and I just need advice. And yes this Is embarrassing.

  19. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    I’m 38. We’ve been together 8.5 yrs. He knew wk 2 I wanted marriage and kids bc I was up front. He has an 18 y/o daughter and she’s almost 19. He was separated 2 yrs when we met and finally was able to get a divorce last year. We have lived together the whole time since 2010 (problem #1). We are BEST FRIENDS and I’ve never trusted anyone but him. Never goes out, doesn’t drink and is 100% committed. His mom even asked on multiple occasions and he said we were getting married. He promised end of 2018. Still no proposal. Best relationship I’ve ever been in. Supportive, positive, encouraging, loves to travel, we laugh 24/7, etc. He promises we are getting married and having children, but still no proposal. I’m tired of waiting and tired of bringing it up. I want to leave but I’m so afraid I’ll lose him forever. I brought it up again tonight after he had worked 12 hrs. Said I’m no longer waiting. I even told him mos ago just get me a fake ring idc you can get me something better down the road. I’m nearing the child bearing years and he knows how important this is to me and has even said we have plenty of room here, especially if we have kids. He talks about the future, but still no proposal. He went into hermit mode this time when I brought up it’s been a year since his divorce and he promised marriage soon after that. BTW, that marriage was over long before I came along but there were some financial reasons why it didn’t happen sooner. It took SEVEN YEARS before he was divorced!!! Saying that out loud is so embarrassing!!! I’m just so mad at myself! I love him so much but love myself more. Idk how or when, but I have to make change or next thing you know I’ll be 49 still waiting and no baby!

  20. John Doe
    John Doe says:

    Well with so many women nowadays that are so very picky and looking for Mr. Perfect which definitely has a lot to do with it today, especially when many women now want men with a lot of money.

    • triste
      triste says:

      I agree with you to a point. But there are also a lot of women out there who have made their money and take care of their own, they want a man who is just as secure. Not one they have to “fix” or who they have to pay his bills, etc.
      Just saying, a picky woman is one who knows herself and her worth. Nothing wrong with that. in the case of men it seems the ones who are reluctant to move forward, its because they aren’t ready to settle with one woman and not play around.
      You say “picky women and money hungry” I say men are “players and looking for a free ride” so there are both sides to it.

  21. Honey B
    Honey B says:

    This is a really useful post. I have been in a relationship for 10 years now and I have always wanted to get married but my partner doesn’t (he is divorced.) I respect his feelings, but he uses the “it’s just a bit of paper” line as well and it does get to me that when he married his first wife he believed in it and now he doesn’t with me.

    • jenna
      jenna says:

      I have been going through the same thing for 7 years. Promises that never took place. Him disappearing on me for weeks. Why on earth would someone non stop tell you to move in with them and at the same time within a couple of days say it was just a thought. Over the years I have changed as a person. Its like I do not care anymore. And I want to leave him, but it is hard. Why didnt he tell me from the beginning he was just fooling around. I mean we are both over 55. Why must I put in all the effort all the time. Then suddenly he will make a joke about proposing and once again he will say oh it was merely a thought. So now I have resorted telling him I will not move in with him anymore and no marriage as well. He wants to stay single to see others behind my back, then go ahead. Still, I find it hard to walk away. And in the end women like us are mentally screwed. I have decided once this is done if it is ever going to get there, I do not want to date ever again.

  22. Kathi
    Kathi says:

    Well at least reading these, I dont feel so dumb. Others are in the same boat. I have been with my bf for 9 yrs, we are both widowed and in our 50’s. He knows I want to get married and just goes silent when I try to talk about it. The most he says is, he just doesnt want to get married again. Wont give a reason. Hard to leave after so many years, what seem to be wasted years. I talk about moving, and he doesnt even suggest living together. I guess I know what I need to do, but its so hard.

  23. Mandy
    Mandy says:

    Why Marriage so freaking important to tell everyone they are committed to someone. It really doesn’t mean your in love it’s just a paper that is harder to end the relationship if you want out but people still Divorce. You should act like your married before you married if you have that kind of close relationship and don’t put any weight on a piece of paper. Don’t get me wrong I love the idea of marriage but people need to stop acting like it’s the end goal in a relationship your wedding isn’t the end. The end goal is to spend your life with that person till death you don’t need a peice of paper. If you put a number on how many years till marriage comes because it’s some form of reward or end game after loving the person your with then you don’t really care about the person. I understand that different have diffent security levels they need to feel like the other person cares about them but I don’t think marriage should be the answer you should build the relationship strong enough to with stand with or with out getting married The idea of marriage is great but some think it’s more important than it really is. The love and loyalty you share with someone is 1st priority.

    • Arnie Singer
      Arnie Singer says:

      If marriage isn’t important to both parties in a relationship, then they don’t need the “piece of paper”. But if it is important to one or both, then you need to respect that and recognize the importance.

    • Jenna
      Jenna says:

      The thing is Mandy, women give. They put in financially eyc. They have their own homes too. So taking care of 2 households because he wont move in or let you move in is financially destructive for women. So is feeling used. And once there is a break up, he is secure as she maintained a lot whereas she lost so much money especially if over 50. And you cannot claim it back. Result? I suggest to women ja, date him but pay only your share nothing else. You be amazed how many men then walk away.

      • triste
        triste says:

        In my case, marriage is important. but not because of any commitment or love we have, its for the legal/financial reasons. we have joint property, I’ve paid and put into his property, and he has mine as well. we own vehicles together, regardless of who paid for it, its in one of our names. if something happens, the other is screwed. If common law were a thing in my state, we’d be fine, but it isn’t. so we “need” a piece of paper to take care of things. If one of us were to die tomorrow, we know each others wishes, know who gets what, we know what we want to happen. But we have ZERO say in it legally. Our “next of kin” (kids) could step in and do whatever they want. He’s been around for most of my kids lives, he’d be fine, his daughter was grown and gone before I came along, and resents me for being in her dads life. I’m screwed.

  24. Patrice
    Patrice says:

    Hello I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 1.5 years. I don’t want 4 to 5 years to pass and we are still in the same place. I was very open in the beginning advising him I will like to be married again. I was previously married for 8 years and it ended. The interesting thing about this situation is he has three kids (4,7 and 25) by three different women. I have a child of my own 13 and do not want anymore children. All of his relationships have been anywhere from 5-8 years with no marriages. If I don’t bring up the future neither does he, I ask him about this and he stated “ just because I don’t speak about it doesn’t mean I’m not thinking about it”. Keep in mind this man is 48 and I am 43. Just need some advice.

  25. Taylor
    Taylor says:

    Thank you so much for this article! I have bin with my man for almost 10 years … I have had to watch my friends and family one by one walk down the aisle… and it has caused me a great deal of pain .. everytime I asked him if he had plans he would say yes I will .. when will you can I start planning or just go to the court house it didn’t matter to me . I have two kids with him nothing has bin more harder to me then to finally realize I wasn’t good enough 😩 But I can’t watch one more person I no have the dream I want so badly … I am giving up I give up i plan on moving out asap and letting him come back to me or not .. but I would rather be alone then with someone who isn’t coming to his sense it’s ate me alive inside it’s done more damage then it’s bin worth believe me .

  26. Posh
    Posh says:

    We lived together for 5 years, and were together for 6 years. In 2013 summer I said: 6 months to think – lets get married or lets break up. I’ve waited for 1 year. He didn’t proposed. 2014 summer I left.
    One year after break up he wrote me letters, we talked…
    In 2016 spetember he proposed to our common friend and in 2017 he married her!!! What a “Happy end”! :)))
    And I am still alone and depressed…

  27. Lo
    Lo says:

    I’ve been with my bf for 11 years since college. We’ve had many ups and downs which includ long distance and breaks. We broke up a few years back due to disagreements of marriage and when. We got back together with a compromise but 3 years later still nothing. Reason being we need to be financially ready- meaning a house. We ended up moving for my job and getting close to buying a house, only to have him relocate for a promotion in his job. Feeling like we are never on the same page- I gave him until the end of the year to decide or I’m gone. What hurts is he has to think about it. It’s made me think if this is what I even want at all anymore and it just sucks.

  28. Shae
    Shae says:

    Please help!
    7 years no ring and I’m miserable.
    Been waiting since year 3. He had me pick out a really affordable ring. We got pregnant which was fine at the time because we were getting engaged anyhow. It never happened. If I could go back I would have left when I found out. I feel all alone like a single mom except for finances.
    At baby shower I felt ridiculous without that ring and him being there. At the babies birth I debated not having him there. I ended up giving the baby his last name. Huge mistake. Now I’m the outsider.
    Our son is almost two now. Since his birth I have no stopped asking him when when when. I’ve screamed and cried now! I want to get married now l I’m leaving I’m done. He looks at me quietly.
    He insists we are getting married. Nothing ever happens. It’s all words no action.
    His annual fam xmas Party is coming up in 2 weeks and I said I’m not going to any fam events anymore with him. Last year his aunts embarrassed me putting me on he spot calling me his wife and asking when the wedding was. Our son was a few months then.
    And the year before I was there 7 months pregnant! I can’t even believe this BS as I type it. I’m so upset.
    I’ve never had a situation like this or even heard of it. I’ve seen it in movies and read stuff online but it makes no sense. Why is he even with me???
    And now I saw there’s no money in our bank. He’s been putting all his dough in his retirement. Thousands of dollars. This would seem fine if A. We didn’t have expenses and bills like we do B. Where’s my ring?! C. If you want me to be a true single mom then get out of my house!
    I feel so stuck here. I know I’m going to be broke if I’m alone and I can’t do it alone. Every time I see his face I’m angry about this. I feel used! Like he used my body as a baby factory for him! Forget women using men and trapping them by getting pregnant. This is the other way around! I love my son and wouldn’t go back but I would never have had a child with this man without commitment. Huge mistake.
    I told him I’m leaving and won’t go into 2018 w/o at least a proposal. He insists he will prooose by then. He also said he would propose back at my bday in September. We are both 34 and he wants another baby! I said no sorry no way it will happen. I told him I’m moving on and I’m going to meet another man now. If he won’t commit then I want to find someone else. I want another baby before I’m 40 but I’m getting married first.

  29. Ms troublesome
    Ms troublesome says:

    I found this article because I am searching for answers. I am dating my biyfriends for almost 1.5 years now. We talked about concerns we have. Sounds like we both want to get married and have a family, he defiantly wants to have kids. The key here is my age! I am almost 40, so the time is very critical for having kids (he states he wants kids for sure!). It bothers me because I don’t know how long we would date. The longer we date the less chance I can get pregnant! If I am younger or older I really don’t care, but I am on the edge, and we still just dating meeting each other on the weekends, we are not even talking about moving in together. I mentioned few times but he seems no rush! I told him if he wanna find someone else go ahead, but he said he likes me, so I don’t know what he is waiting for?!? Any suggestions?

  30. Holly
    Holly says:

    Sorry, but I don’t agree with any of this. I’ve been with my boyfriend for 5 years this June. We began our relationship at a rocky time in our lives, when we both had just graduated college and the economy was horrendous. We’ve only just begun to live together, but that’s because we were both struggling with financially and couldn’t make it happen. We had been trying to move in together for a few years prior.

    We are both perfectly content with our relationship. He takes things slow as a way to be sure of his decisions – that’s just who he is. I know it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to marry me. And, he is still struggling financially, so I know he can’t afford to save for a ring at the moment.

    And honestly, I don’t care. Marriage is not a priority for me. It rarely crosses my mind and although I’ve told him my dreams, I never bring it up otherwise. Sure, there are a few times I’ll stop and imagine how great a small, dream destination wedding would be, but then I shrug and say what’s the point? Neither of us want kids, and marriage would increase our student loan payments to ungodly amounts we probably can’t even afford. And although he talks very occasionally about marriage (he brought it up a few weeks ago when talking about his friends engagement, and said about us that “we’re building something special”), I can tell it’s not exactly a priority of his either.

    And that’s fine! Who says you have to be married to be committed? Who says you have to marry at all?

    Thats just how we feel.

    • Kat
      Kat says:

      That’s great and all, because that what you’ve both mutually decided. This post isn’t about that. This post is about one wanting marriage and the other not wanting it, or saying that eventually they do, but never actually doing it, because they don’t want it at all. They also know that if they’re honest and say “that’s not what I want.” then their relationship would be over. They don’t want that either, because for them, they’re in a really sweet set up, whereas the other party is being put through misery and torture.

  31. Kat
    Kat says:

    We’re both in our 40s. We’ve been together for almost 7 years. At our 3rd year he proposed to me and then 4 months later he called the wedding off. I thought we had broken up but we didn’t know how to leave each other alone. Now I’m unhappy because he was ordained to be a deacon in his church, spiritually this type of relationship isn’t acceptable, and I feel that this relationship is going nowhere because he’s gotten comfortable. Ladies don’t let your man get comfortable! When he does, that’s a wrap!

    • Cin
      Cin says:

      You are sooo right! Also, be weary of him being “all talk and no action” Even the simplest things, like doing something you mentioned to him and it never happens says alot about him going Nowhere but Comfort Zone with you.

  32. Jaeson
    Jaeson says:

    I think someone knows if it will work out (barring any major mental issues) within 1.5 years. If a man or woman is unable to commit at this point, it is time to let them go. They are trash, and KNOW they are trash. Most people I know who are married, said they could tell within 6 months if this was the right person or not. I don’t think one should commit that soon, since some people take longer to get to know than others. But if you are smart enough to not be someone’s sex cow you can make a wise decision. Relationships are built on trust, respect, and shared life goals and interests. If you don’t have those, no amount of sex can make up for it. If you are woman, you are fooling yourself- he’s using you. If you are a guy- she’s using you. If someone really loves you- they commit.

    I’ve seen way too many stupid people end up with the wrong person just hoping things get better. Then you look at them, and 5 years later (6 in one of my friend’s cases) they are still just ‘dating’ while their s/o clearly doesn’t give a shit. I see this more in women then men, but it happens to them too.

    A bad boy will always remain a bad boy. They don’t grow up from your influence, they have to want to grow up themselves. And no, that doesn’t happen once someone hits 21 or whatever age you have in mind.

    Someone who is arrogant, impatient, and unkind will stay that way as long as you are with them.

  33. Ginger
    Ginger says:

    This September will be 10 years we’ve been dating (with the exception of the 2 years we broke up. I basically broke up with him because he hadn’t married me.) Anyhow, I was miserable without him. And now I’m dead inside knowing that he really just doesn’t care, love or respect me enough to marry me.

    • Brenda
      Brenda says:

      Hi Ginger, I have been dating a guy from my senior year in high school and its will be 10 years this summer. Every time I talk about or even mention marriage he seems to ignore me. We live together since our early twenties and things seem to be going along but now I am looking for more. I don’t know if staying with him will he eventually want to marry or am I wasting my time hoping he will. I feel like i’m still back in senior year of high school with him cause life decisions have not happened with the exceptions of moving in together.

    • Becky
      Becky says:

      Omg I know the feeling!!! 11 yrs together and what a waste of time! No commitment, no security, no future! I kick myself all the time

  34. Meg
    Meg says:

    Thanks for your honest and insightful post. I’ve been in a dating relationship for over a year now, and my boyfriend ‘David’ and I are both in our mid-50’s. We’ve each been married once before, our divorces many years in the past. We’re compatible on so many levels, enjoy traveling together, and get along well with the other’s family and friends. We talked about moving in together in a general way, but it’s become apparent that David is ‘not ready’. His primary relationship is with his older sister, and his future plans include family, but not me. I realize I’ve made things very comfortable for David, and allowed myself to be the third wheel. I don’t want to remain frustrated and resentful. At this point, it’s up to me to decide…if we’re staying in the ‘dating zone’, then I need to dial back my investment in the relationship, devote more energy to other fulfilling activities, and see if that’s going to be satisfying for the long run. If I really want a commitment, then I need to make my timeline clear and stick to it. Sigh.

    • Heidi
      Heidi says:

      Hello Meg.

      I don’t know if this post is still open to replies, but I thought I would give it a chance. Your post hit so close to home that I couldn’t not reply.

      I am curious as to what you finally ended up doing and what your situation is now. My boyfriend and I are also in our 50’s, previously married and divorced and we have been in a relationship for over three years. We truly love each other and vaguely talk of spending our lives together, however things have reached a point where they are comfortable for him and I do not see much of an effort on his part to take things to the next level.
      It seems that there is always something that deviates his focus from moving forward. He has his business, an older sister who spends a couple of days a every week at his place, his hobbies and activities that keep him busy, and his dog who is like his second child.
      I appreciate that he has such a fulfilling life, but I often feel like I am something he “pencils in” on the weekends.
      I understand that he wants to take his time with our relationship so that he doesn’t make the same mistakes that he made with previous relationships. He thinks that the longer we wait, the better our chance of staying together forever. I just wish I had some idea of when he thinks he will be ready….
      I know that he is the type of person who would be fine without someone special in his life. He has made that clear a few times. Like I said, he has a fulfilling life even without me. However, I would very much like someone to share my life with me (more than just on the weekends).
      I believe he is the love of my life, but does he feel the same about me if he can’t even make room in his life for me…?

      It would be nice to hear back from you Meg, but even if I don’t, it felt good to get my thoughts organized and to vent a bit.
      Thank you.

      • Kristy
        Kristy says:

        Hi Meg I am in the same position that you are I have been in a 5 year realtionship with a man who says he wants to commit but here I am still waiting. I actually broke up with him and he wanted to make things work and said things would change that was over a year ago! It is so difficult when you truly love someome For five years I have been that weekend girlfriend too! Hope this reaches you and let me know how you are doing!

        • Carla
          Carla says:

          Hi i am in a similar situation. I have to tell you i am so happy i’m not alone. i have been dating my boyfriend for what will be 3 years and I’ve been divorced for 5 years and he has been divorced for 1.5 years. yes we started dating when he was separated, which is probably most of the problem. he didn’t get time for himself. and i told him this many times. he has two teenage kids, the daughter lives with him and she isn’t the most pleasant and my relationship with her started off phony, which i thought she wanted one but really she just wanted to shut up daddy and make nice with his new girlfriend and his son lives with his ex. I have two young sons who adore him. we talked about marriage and living together buy only because i have brought it up numerous times and broke up with him over it. its the same old story he is “broke” pays for his kids private school and his ex’s alimony. the best is i lived in an apartment and he lived with his mom during the separation and divorce. i wanted a house and hinted to him but he never hinted back so i went on to buy a house and six months later he bought one. he could’ve stopped me and said lets get something together but hat was another argument. we really never talk about the future because he claims he wants to be financially stable to raise another family but we go on “family” vacations. nothing makes sense to me. oh and the ex wife doesn’t leave him alone, she constantly texts and emails and calls him and he doesn’t put an end to it. and its not only about the kids its about everyday things, things that you would ask a husband. so obviously they cant detach from each other and i’ve had multiple talks and arguments about this.anyone have any suggestions?


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