Not quite engaged

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2003
Not quite engaged
Fri, 06-14-2013 - 12:58pm

Sorry, I know there is a "not quite engaged" board but it does not seem to get a whole lot of traffic.

Maybe someone can help me out with some advice here, and at the very least it will make me feel better to type it out. Here it goes.

I've been with my BF for about a year and a half. I'm in my early 30's, him his early 40's. No kids between the two of us. (None desired, either). He was married for almost 15 years and I met him when he was separated. Last summer, the divorce was final.

I love him very much and want to be with him. He has asked me to move in but I refuse without a ring. He has a house about 20 minutes from me and I have an apartment. I explained that I need (not want) that level of commitment before I move in. Plus not that he would, but I have no legal claims to the house. If I'm helping to pay that mortgage- my name better be on it. I don't want to put myself in a difficult position.

So we have discussed this a few times and he understands how I feel. My current issue is that I don't have any sort of sense of a timeline to being engaged. I know a year and a half isn't particularly long, but to me it was an easy decision. He is the one I want to be with.

Last night I was over at the house and he said he would like my help with "furniture shopping" this weekend and named a few stores he wanted to go to. He's looking for a new couch, preferably an L-shaped one and maybe a futon for the other room. As he is saying the words, I'm thinking to myself "I have a futon in my guest room that is barely used. I also have an L-shaped couch in my living room".

If he is looking to buy furniture that I already have, then that tells me this man is not looking to propose to me any time soon. (Thus me moving in).

I would like to approach him about this tonight and would care for some guidance on how to bring it up. Basically, hit him with the "where is this going" speech. He often says the words "when we are living together some day" but as mentioned, there is no sense of time of when that is.

My lease renewal will be up at the end of the summer. He knows when my lease is up and my hope was to not have to renew. At this point, I don't see it going that way. I'm paying in rent almost what is is paying in mortgage. Please do not interpret that as I want to move in for financial reasons. Fact is, everyone knows two incomes are better than one. I made the choice not to move in without the engagement and I want to stick by that. Combined income is just a plus that I am looking forward to.

Tonight we are going to dinner with another couple. After dinner, back at the house- I would like to bring this up. I thought of starting out by mentioned his decision to go furniture shopping and take it from there. My goal is not for him to feel pressured nor am I giving him an ultimatum. (Yet). Maybe part of his thinking is that he hasn't been divorced long and they were together a long time. (No major event led to the breakup. Just years of them growing apart and wanting different things). However, I've never based our relationship on how long he has been divorced. I base it on how I feel about him, how good of a man he is, and how much I want to be with him.

This is my third serious relationship and I was engaged before. Obviously that didn't work out but it was for the best. My current BF makes me feel like no man ever has before. He treats me so well and makes me feel beautiful every day. He's not perfect by any means, but he is right for me.

I don't anticipate this being any type of fight (we rarely argue) but I just think it is something I need to bring up and need clarification on.

Thanks for reading.


iVillage Member
Registered: 09-17-2007
Fri, 06-14-2013 - 4:58pm

Does he want to be married again?  He has only been out of his 15 year relationship for about 2.5 years, by the looks of it.  He speaks of 'living together' one day, what about marriage?  I guess that would be the key thing I would want to know.  

If marriage is the type of relationship you need, he may or may not be for you.  If the answer is that he wants to be married, then what is holding him back from you?  Not enough time between now and the ending of his marriage, as you mentioned?  Long term compatibility/goals/what to do in retirement?  Sexual issues?  Those are just a few possibilities of the many, many possible.

How to bring it up?  That's tough, but I would first explore his views on marriage generically, not to make it about you at first.  If he is fine with getting married again, then, if the mood is right, move on to what the hold up might be.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-16-2008
Fri, 06-14-2013 - 9:00pm


iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Sat, 06-15-2013 - 12:50pm

I agree with Demontespan on this one.  AFter I re-read your post, I noticed that he mentions "when we are living together"--does he ever say that he wants to get married?  He understands your position and I do think it's a good one if you do want to get married not to move in before you are engaged because at that point there isn't much incentive for him to get married unless that's something that he really wants to do.  I can tell you that I'm 55 & have been divorced twice so marriage really isn't something I'd consider again.  I think that soon after someone gets divorced, they probably aren't that anxious to get right back into marriage.  Even if it was an amicable divorce and no kid issues, it's still a painful process to go through and most people would not want to rush into the 2nd marriage until they are pretty sure it's going to work out.  So he either might not want to get married at all, he might want to wait a few years or he might be one of those people who wants a "test drive" by living together for a certain time before marriage--and the engagement is no guarantee, after all.  You could get "engaged," start living together and then decide not to get married cause something comes up.  So I think you should have more than one discussion about how each of you views the future.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2003
Mon, 06-17-2013 - 10:12am

Thank you for your replies, and I have an update.

I should have been more specific in my regular post but yes, he has said he does want to get married again. He has told me that his first marriage has not turned him off from doing it again. He said he loves being in a relationship and part of a couple. He wants to be with someone and have a partner in his life.

That being said, I brought up "The Talk" on Friday night as planned. He was pretty blindsided. That wasn't my intention but yes- he was extremely surprised. My response to that was, shouldn't we be talking about this after a year and a half together? I hadn't thought it would be that much of a shock.

I approached him by asking where he sees us in six months. Where does he see us in a year? Then it was my turn to be surprised- because he can't tell me when he is ready for marriage.

To find out that my partner was not on the same page as me really hurt. I really had thought we were further along than that and must have misinterpreted something along the line. However, as mentioned he has talked about us being together in the future- so why wouldn't I think that? I pointed out that we had no specific plan or timeline and wanted to know where he was on that.

Everyone was correct in the sense that he needs more time. He said he can't stress enough that he wants to be with me and has no doubts about me specifically- but in his head he is hung up on that he hasn't been divorced a year. (It will be a year in August). He points out that he spent half of his first marriage trying to make it work- only to have it fail. As I'm listening to him tell me this, it is still hard to hear. I'm ready, he's not.

What bothers me is that he couldn't say when he would be ready. Honestly- I'm not willing to wait more than another year. I think after two and a half years with someone that you should know. He said he is not going to "string me along" and I think that giving him another year is fair.

I heard him say that it is not me he is unsure about, he just wants to wait........but it still really hurts.

Here is the kicker. After we had this whole difficult conversation- he asked for the THIRD time since we have been together for me to consider moving in.

No, no, NO.

I have been clear on that from the first time he asked and I will not waver. I said that I couldn't do that- especially now that he doesn't know when he wants to be engaged. If I move in, he gets what he wants and I don't get what I need. Where does that leave me? Waiting for a ring. Then if it doesn't work out- I'm the one that has to take all of my stuff, pack, move, and start all over again. If I'm good enough to live with, then I'm good enough to marry.

That was pretty much my answer to him- again. (I didn't put it as harshly as the above paragraph). I also explained that if I compromised on that- then I would be extremely upset with myself. I also said I understood that an engagement and a ring is no guarantee- but I need to know we are more than just boyfriend and girlfriend at that point.

I've seen it happen to plenty of my girlfriends. They move in without the ring and then the excuses come. "I want to get a better job first. We should re-do the kitchen. I don't have money for a ring right now. Let's wait until after the Holidays". A close friend went through seven years of that with her live in BF and finally became engaged a month ago. I'm not willing to wait that long. If I move into that house, I can see how becoming engaged is no longer a priority.

So as I sit here the morning typing out this long reply- I'm upset about a few things. Not being on the same page, not knowing how long, and them asking me yet again to compromise on something that has been a clear "no" from me. The rest of the weekend went ok, and we seem to fall back into our regular pattern. We talked about it a few times and it is clear that he wants to wait.

We are going away on a mini-vacation this weekend and I am just hoping to enjoy my time with him. After that, I'm going to look into renewing my lease or maybe moving- depending on how much my rent goes up. It is not what I had hoped for but at least now I know.

I don't regret asking. I'm very glad that I did because otherwise, I would continue to think he might pop the question soon. Obviously he and I are coming from different perspectives and I can understand if he needs more time. I made it clear that if a year from now I feel like we are in the same place, and no closer to moving forward- that I'm really going to have to re-evaluate our relationship. He said he felt that was completely fair.

I've never been married or divorced so I don't know what that feels like. I think sometimes it is easy for me to forget that he went through all of that.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Mon, 06-17-2013 - 10:31am

I think that it's good tha tyou had the talk even if the outcome wasn't exactly what you wanted to hear.  I also think that your plan is good to give it another year and if he still seems unsure then you can decide what to do--without constantly bringing it up all the time.  I think it might be unrealistic to ask him when he would be sure--how would he know how he is going to feel in the future?  Being so soon out of a divorce, he is probably anxious still.  When you are divorce, you just want to prevent yourself from making a mistake in the future--when you get married the first time, esp. if you're young, it's very idealistic.  I got married at 27--we had dated for 2 yrs first, there were no obvious problems that people could see and then 13 yrs & 2 kids later, I was pretty surprised that my ex wanted a divorce--it's not like we argued all the time or there were major problems.  I mean, our youngest child was only 1 yr old--and it was my ex's idea to have another child.  So maybe right now your BF is just in that mode of not even trusting his own judgment--like he obviously cares for you but maybe he also thought his exW was just great before they got married too, so he is thinking about what went wrong.  Do you know that the divorce rate for 2nd marriages is much higher than for people in first marriages?  It's because a lot of people never look at the circumstances of why they got divorced so they can prevent the same thing from happening again--they blame everything on their ex, they never look at their part in it and then, surprise, they make the same mistake.  and while I can certainly see why you won't live together without being engaged because you figure then you might never get married, I also think that the reason he might want to live together first is that it might make him surer that the 2 of you would be more compatible.  I doubt I'd ever want to get married again but I don't think I'd do it without living together first.  Now if the 2 of you have opposite views on that, then I can see a big problem.

Avatar for khatru1
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2004
Thu, 06-20-2013 - 2:02pm

I can relate to your situation as I have been divorced and am living with my GF. She is like you, never married. You of course have every right to your own timeline. There are no rules about how long one must wait for a ring, etc. You have now set a boundry at another year. Thats fair. You also have every right to refuse to move in until married. He of course is free to ask you to reconsider but its a little like beating a dead horse. He should know by now that you are resolved on this.

For myself, 1 year since my divorce I was no way ready to be with someone else. I can understand if he feels it is too soon for him. I don't want to make this about money but yet there it is. It is certainly a component of any relationship. Its a big reason people have relationship problems. I was lucky enough to end up with another house after having to sell the previous house from the divorce. Sounds like your BF was also lucky enough. From your side of course you feel like why should you contribute money to his house, his mortgage, and you get nothing if you break up. From his side , if you get married and then divorce sometime later, the house splits both ways. I can understand his extra caution is making sure he has "The One". He thought he did before, but it turns out, he didn't. It really throws much more doubt into a persons decisons.

So again while you have the right to break it off anytime if his timeline doesn't match yours, I would not throw in the towl yet if it were me.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-29-2003
Mon, 06-24-2013 - 2:27pm

Thank you very much again. It was helpful to get the perspective of some people whom have gone through a divorce. Try as I might- I cannot relate to BF’s situation. The most I can do is be understanding and try to hear where he is coming from.

I recognize that it was unfair of me originally ask when he would be ready. Nobody can say that for sure. I was just frustrated because I wanted a sense of time (I’m an analytical person) and he had none.

I’m sure nobody thinks on their wedding day “Gee! I would love to be divorced from this person someday!” Everyone has their best intentions. BF told me he wonders if his marriage ever stood a chance in the first place, which means (to him) that he “wasted” more than half his life on someone. The failure was difficult to face.

We had a very nice time on our mini-vacation over the weekend. The previous conversation didn’t come up but he did ask me where I saw us living one day. (As in geographically). I answered his questions and we seem to be in agreement of the areas we are interested in settling.

However, I’m very guilty of doing the “girl thing” and reading too much into it. I wonder why is he asking where I see us living when he has no idea when is going to be ready to propose? Just planning ahead maybe?

His house is a whole different ball of wax. It has been on and off the market over two years. There are many houses for sale in his development and he can’t seem to get any offers.

The issue: I have zero interest living in that house. It is way too small, still needs work done, and has been refinanced more than once. He and his ex never moved on from their “starter home”. Plus, I want something that is “ours”- not the home he and his ex wife shared for over ten years.

 BF is aware of my feelings on this and does not disagree with us having a place of our own….but again this is all “someday”. The assumption is that whenever he pops the question, I will move into the current house for a period of time before it sells. A fear I have is that I move in and “settle”- he will never sell it. This, along with not being engaged- is another reason I’m not moving in any time soon.

I accept that I'll probably have to move in after an engagement, before it is sold- but I don't want that to be forever.

He ex never cared for the house either (had the same concerns about me with it being too small) and had no problem signing it over to him in the divorce.

Musiclover12, I was unaware of the statistics of 2nd marriages. That does make sense though. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you are doomed to repeat them.

khatru1, I hear what you say about dating after a divorce and I think my BF dated too soon after being separated. It had almost been a year and he was lonely. The thought he had was that he would go through a year of maybe dating a bunch of people that weren’t compatible until he met someone. I ended up being the second girl he dated and we just really hit it off.

I had never gone out with someone separated before but assumed “Hey, it is just a drink date!” A year and a half later, here I am.

I do wish we had met after his divorce, but it is all in the past now. I can say for certain- if for any reason my relationship does not work out: I will NEVER date a separated man again.

His separation/divorce has been the biggest hurdle in our relationship. I’ve chosen to be patient and will see what the next year brings.