How Does He Tell Her He Doesn’t Want To Get Engaged?

Alias (DO NOT USE A REAL NAME!!): Jonnyballand
Comment: I don’t see so many postings here from men, but here goes.

I’ve been dating my current girlfriend for six months now. Next month, we are going on our first vacation together – 3 weeks to Costa Rica.

The thing is, I’m starting to get worried she’s thinking I’m going to propose.

We’re both in our late 30s. Mostly settled financially. And, as you‘ve seen often here, the pressure is on.

Last week was her birthday, and I joined her and her family for dinner, during which her dad proposed a toast to our future, then posed together for joint photos (which made me a bit uncomfortable).

She always brings up little things about the future like where she wants to live and if I’d be willing to move there. I agree, because in theory I would. I’m flexible like that. I’m the kind of guy who does everything for a girlfriend.

Plus location was an issue with her ex boyfriend, and so I can understand her worries (though it is a bit weird to me that she’s waiting to get married to move to where she actually wants to be).

She also has inquired about my finances and how we’d afford kids (which maybe is also a mistake that I answer in detail about how much I make and how much I’ve saved).

And she’s made “casual” mention of the type of ring she would want, but I guess some women like that talk, so fair enough.

I mean, I understand she sees all of this as “signs” that I’m moving in that direction with her, and so I’m maybe leading her on, because for now I’m fine with the status quo. On the other hand, I can’t shut her down each time, because it is all part of the getting to know you phase.

So two questions:

1. How does a 38 year old man date “age appropriate women”, without this happening? Women all seem to be reading the same advice column on making your intentions clear from the start/how to land a man. So is 6 months now the shit or get off the pot cutoff date?

2. I am not intending on proposing to her in Costa Rica. Should I address this before the vacation, and risk a fight/disappointment on her end? I feel like once the “pink elephant” is let out, and the marriage pressure’s on, it’s really not going to end so well, and I’m now buying time to see where it goes, plus don’t want to throw away the money/trip, or disappoint her too much.

As for how I feel about her, I’m not sure if I love her or the idea of the relationship more. She’s hot, but the sex isn’t great or frequent. To be truly honest (as this is the internet and we’re strangers), while she’s not so successful herself, she’s from a very wealthy and respected family, which has an appeal. Our chemistry isn’t great, but there’s lots of sweet interactions “honey” “sweetheart” and the like, which I like. There’s plenty of conversation and lots of laughs, but still, I sometimes feel like we’re on a first date, like there’s a will for more, but we just don’t quite gel. In other words, there’s nothing great or terrible here. I’d be happy to keep going for a year, but I’m not sure it’s possible with the pressure.

So maybe question 3:
Why are women so gung-ho to tie down with a man who’s clearly ambivalent? How do a few signs have them losing the plot that soon? Is this level in our relationship really enough for her?

(sorry to have been so long winded, but a bloke doesn’t get that many opportunities to vent).
Age: 38
City: London
State: UK

I’ll apologize in advance because you’re unknowingly picking at a scab of mine. Forgive me if I’m a little extra blunt.

I have to say that I’m noticing a few trends amongst British guys. First, they are frequently astonishingly verbose. That sort of communication style only serves to agitate and confuse the person to whom you are speaking, whether verbally or in writing. Holy Christ, just get to the point.

Second, they consistently appear to be drawn to domineering and bitchy/bratty women who completely run roughshod over them. And…AND… the ones I know all seem to end up with women who are (or were) really attractive, but behind the scenes are obnoxious pains in the ass.   Honest question here, because I’ve seen this more than a handful of times. Is it that British men are just naturally passive and weak and profoundly insecure or something? Are they all just super image obsessed and like to trot around their rich or hot piece of ass girlfriend/wife for as long as that lasts so they can score cool points? What is that about?

As for your question:

I do not understand why you just sit there and let her plan for the future and say nothing. No, talk of the type of engagement ring she wants is not “getting to know you” stuff. She’s making it clear what she wants and  what she expects and you’re doing nothing to dissuade her. She wants to get married. If your relationship is as flaccid as you describe here, it sounds like you’re just an after thought. But then, you’re not exactly being Mister Considerate, either. You’ll gladly go along with this charade knowing you’re not on the same page as she is. You both kind of suck.

You prevent this from happening by speaking up and not letting her steamroll over you and dictating how the relationship will unfold. Making this even more baffling is that the relationship isn’t really even all that good and you’re still sitting back and staying silent and yet still perplexed at why she thinks you’re getting engaged. I’m adding you to the British Guys With No Spine file I’ve cultivated over the last few years. Go date a 30 year old and buy yourself some time.

Why are women so gung-ho to tie down with a man who’s clearly ambivalent?

Because often times, as is the case with you, the guy doesn’t want to cause any drama or conflict or hasn’t made up his mind either way so he doesn’t say anything. If you truly believe she’s planning on you proposing during your trip, then you should set her straight. Here’s why: because every woman I’ve ever come across online or in person who behaved like this was constantly dropping hints to friends and family that they were about to get engaged. Tell her only because you don’t want to see her humiliate herself. If coming clean blows things up, well then you have your answer about the relationship. If she takes it in stride, well, you’re kinda stuck as you don’t sound all that enthralled about her in the first place.

Have we all noticed the common thread running throughout several posts of late? It’s the one where women over 35 scramble to get a guy to commit even though the relationship itself was never all that solid. Not that that surprises me because I’ve seen this so often that I’m starting to think many marriages happen because the woman was just desperate to get married and didn’t care to whom.



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65 Responses to “How Does He Tell Her He Doesn’t Want To Get Engaged?”

  1. Selena Says:

    You’re not sure if you love her. The sex isn’t great or frequent. Chemistry isn’t great, but you like it when she calls you sweetheart. You don’t quite gel. Her parents are well off and you see that as a point in her favor. “I’d be happy to keep going for a year, but I’m not sure it’s possible with the pressure.”

    You don’t want to marry her, but you’d like to keep this going for another 6 mos anyway if you could and then dump her? Because? Sheesh.

    “Why are women so gung-ho to tie down with a man who’s clearly ambivalent?

    You are not clearly ambivalent in your communication WITH HER – you have avoided showing ambivalence in order to keep this thing going. Therefore, she thinks you are totally on board as far as a future goes.

    “Is this level in our relationship really enough for her?”

    Why don’t you tell her everything you have written here and see what she says?

    And do it before you go on vacation.

  2. Yvonne Says:

    Why does she bring all of this up? She wants to see if you two are on the same page. So far, you haven’t run screaming from the room, so she thinks you’re on board. She asks about your finances because she wants to know if you are financially solvent enough to raise kids.

    After 6 months, I would not necessarily expect you to be head over heels in love, but I would want you to be open to the idea of a future together. However, you need to communicate and you need to be honest. If you are pretty certain that your relationship has no future, then you need to leave. But if you really do care about her and want to see if the relationship can grow, then you need to communicate that also.

    You need to be able to talk about the things that don’t work for you and see if they can improve. Don’t just sit idly by while she makes plans in her head that you’re not on board with, only to get so fed up in another 6 months that you leave. Maybe you don’t feel that close to her because you don’t really communicate your true needs and desires?

    Most importantly, be sure that your with her for the right reasons, not just because of her impressive family or her hotness.

  3. Shadowcat Says:

    I have a ton of work on my desk, but SO much to say on this subject that I am considering just posting a letter of my own later rather than a lengthy reply to this one right now, so I am going to address the least of this, but…

    Three Weeks?
    Have you ever been on vacation with someone for three weeks? I mean, do you know how long three weeks is in vacation time? You will spend more concentrated time in these three weeks than you have probably spent in the entire six months you have been dating. I don’t mean like when you and a bunch of your friends from University went to Ibiza for three weeks and were all doing your own thing, I mean with a significant other. Three weeks! When I was 34, I went on a vacation (with my best friend of 21 years, we’d been buddies since 9th grade) for TWO weeks to Europe and we almost broke up after the fourth day. Three weeks is a damned long time to be in that kind of close contact, especially if you are not going to be on a resort, and have to trek around and hash things out on your own, you are going to learn a LOT about each other.

    There is a lot to be said about getting this proposal business sorted out before you leave, but I have to say three weeks in Costa Rica is an expensive proposition… Would you rather she was disappointed now or after the trip? If you really think she expects a marriage proposal (I’m not going to get into the reasons she might have, thats the subject for the post or letter I want to write later, let’s just salvage or liquidate this trip)

    You need to find some subtle way to let her know you’re not on the same page, without sitting her down and outrightly telling her she’s not “wifeable” as my students would put it. You’re not going to marry this one. You could make some statement like…

    Never mind. In the name of honesty and sisterhood, I just deleted all the good lines that I’ve heard from my present boyfriend for years. (I’m not kidding, I was about to give you GOLD, and I wasn’t bullshitting, I wrote a bunch of them out! It will be 16 years this summer, no ring. He’s good… Or maybe I’m a dope with low self-esteem. Maybe a bit of both?)

    Do what Selena said. Just put it a little nicer, but not so nice she can continue to delude herself. But many women will still do that, apparently she already has for a long time. I tend to doubt you are going to risk the success of this trip anyway, But you can find something subtle to say so she doesn’t have unrealistic expectations and you aren’t waiting for the ball to drop while you are trekking through the rainforest.

    Sorry that post was so long and disjointed, but it pushed a lot of buttons for me!

    Is it even minutely possibly that this is some guilt/paranoia thing on your end, and she is NOT expecting some big marriage proposal?

  4. KK Says:

    I’m not sure what is the point of this relationship. She wants to get married to the writer. He sees himself with her for another 6 months at most. Why not just end it NOW? It is cruel to stay with her at this point when she so clearly wants to get married and have kids.

    Also, I’m a little confused about how he’s being “clearly ambivalent”? Maybe he says/does stuff to indicate that to her, and he didn’t include it in the letter, but if i were her, I’d assume we were on the same page. I mean, he’s clearly ambivalent, but in terms of what he is saying to his gf, he sounds pretty damn sure of himself.

    Finally, there might be little chemistry on HIS terms, but she might see things differently. And maybe she just doesn’t like/want sex. Or maybe she wants to get married so badly that any guy will suffice.

    All i can say is that it really sounds like this relationship needs to end now. Maybe even lose the money on the vacation.

  5. mindstar Says:

    “Is it that British men are just naturally passive and weak and profoundly insecure or something?”

    They are. I think British men haven’t been the same since the Empire dissolved. I have a few male British cousins and they are passive in the extreme.

    As for the OP since you have utterly failed to give your girlfriend any reason NOT to think you were on the same page she will continue planning your future life for you. She is clearly anxious to get married and your passivity is only encouraging her.

    Either man up and tell her how you feel or get ready for her to show up in a bridal gown and carrying a rented tux for you

  6. AnnieNonymous Says:

    OP is reading wayyyyy too much into some of this stuff. There is absolutely nothing wrong with toasting to “the future” at a birthday party, nor is it weird to take group photos at that party. That’s all pretty typical when you’ve been dating for six months and have met the parents.

    The girlfriend is 38 and wants to have kids. That’s likely a major factor in why she wants to get married. If OP doesn’t want to be with her long-term, he needs to end things now so his girlfriend still has a chance to have children. Don’t take that away from her. You’d be surprised how many men legitimately don’t understand this part of female biology. It could still happen for her after 40, but ya know, probably not.

    I hate it when people do something stupid or mean and then act like they didn’t know. OP is going on a romantic vacation with his marriage- and baby-happy girlfriend and is annoyed that he wants him to propose? Rent a brain.

    • HammersAndNails Says:

      And this folks is exactly why I refuse to date women my own age. You aren’t wrong, but I’m not getting engaged to someone I’ve known for 6 months. Not going to happen. I think we can all agree that, for better or worse, 6 months to engagement is moving incredibly fast. If you are dead set on that pace you should be disclosing this on the second date or sooner and pre selecting other family fast track individuals.

      Most guys are simply not going to be on board for that so while I get what you are saying and why you are saying it, women need to keep in mind that it’s not a reasonable expectation for the majority of men they meet.

      • HammersAndNails Says:

        And before someone implies that reticence is unreasonable or capricious, I think everyone here has dated someone that seemed great for three months but turned out to be terrible beyond belief once they showed their true colors. All but the craziest women can hold it together for six months. All but the most asexual can fake a sex drive for six months. I have had no idea about what kind of debts, or health issues most women I’ve dated for six months are carrying. I don’t even know how they act when they are secure in the relationship, comfortable, and very angry. At six months you have no idea what the worst someone is capable of is. Id have no idea about anything they don’t want me to know if they want to get married that badly.

        • mistori Says:

          There’s no problem with the fact that he doesn’t want to marry her (or propose to her) yet. But what he hasn’t made clear is if he only wants to continue for another year & then that is all, or if he wants to continue another year so he can get to decide in that year. And just as he is not clearly communicating to us, he is not clearly communicating to her. He claims to be ambivalent & doesn’t understand why that is acceptable to her but as 2 other people said, he doesn’t appear to have communicated that ambivalence to her. He appears to be going along with the program. Moxie is right in that letting someone talk about rings (& where you are going to live & how much money you have to raise kids) is not part of the getting to know you phase – unless you clarify it with a big “IF” & say you could/would do those things IF you get married but you don’t know yet. But the OP just lets her talk about these things without interjecting so of course she assumes he is on the same page.
          So sorry for the rambling, but the point is that it is not a problem that he doesn’t know what he wants in 6 mos., the problem is that he passive & is allowing her to think that he is on the same page as her, so he is misleading her. She needs to know that this is not a done deal. As far as when to tell her, neither choice is good because it should have been done already so I think it is 6 of one & half dozen of the other & a matter of personal choice. I don’t think 3 weeks is going to drastically alter the long term future of either of you. I think it is a matter of which type of fall out you would prefer to deal with & when.

      • AnnieNonymous Says:

        The thing is, I’m not even sure that the girlfriend actually wants to get engaged at this point. Why aren’t we questioning OP’s assumption that she’s even expecting that? It’s one thing to want to be married eventually, and it’s pretty normal for a 38-year-old woman to want to make sure that her partner is on the same page as her regarding children. They’re at the six-month mark and she’s talking about getting married and having kids…someday. Six months is a good time to be talking about this stuff. This is OP’s chance to get out of the relationship. This is the very point of having those conversations. But no, he wants his girlfriend to help split he cost of the vacation first.

        • Maria Says:

          Agreed! Sounds more like she’s trying to feel out how he sees their future, as it doesn’t sound like she demanded marriage and proposal, she’s just dropping hints. Maybe she can sense his ambivalence and is getting anxious. He says that she should be able to tell that he’s ambivalent but i have a feeling he may be confusing her and leading her on a bit instead of just using his words like a big boy and telling her he really is not ready for or interested in marriage with her. It’ll be uncomfortable and she’ll hurt like hell but it’s just the right thing to do. Seems like neither of them are being very up front and honest about what they want, they are just kind of waiting for things to fall into place somehow

        • HammersAndNails Says:

          >Why aren’t we questioning OP’s assumption that she’s even expecting that?

          because its pointless. We aren’t getting any more details there. He could be entirely wrong and she could have no expectation of a proposal in 2015 for all we know. Maybe she is not sure of him yet and would turn him down. That’s not what i was responding too.

          >OP is going on a romantic vacation with his marriage- and baby-happy girlfriend and is annoyed that he wants him to propose? Rent a brain.

          I certainly agree with your new stance that 6 months is a good point to start the discussion, in fact I actually think its a bit late if you are up against the clock as desperately as you imply. That’s a VERY different stance then saying if you date a woman for 5 months you are the scum of the earth for planning on taking a trip with her unless you pack a wedding ring.

          • Selena Says:


            I think for people who have a timeline regarding marriage/bio children it’s best to put that card on the table fairly soon. A 2-3 year timeline is much more concrete than “someday”.

            I also think that making, or proposing a lifetime commitment at the 6 mo mark is risky business. Wiser to wait at least a year when you’ve known each other longer, better, and some of the newness and ‘shine’ as worn down. And people can feel they are in or falling in love and still not be ready to sign a license just yet.

            The issue I see with the OP is in the paragraph he describes how he feels about her. There are some positive things written there, but mostly it reads as someone who is not falling in love. It reads as someone who is not THAT into her, but she’s okay – for now.

            From the letter:”In other words, there’s nothing great or terrible here.”

            Does he really think that another 6 mos will make it great, gel, create chemistry, improve sex, etc.? Highly, HIGHLY unlikely.

            I don’t see the OP’s problem as being about pressure to propose, or women not understanding ambivalence. Six months in and he’s just not feeling what most women would want their lover (and potential husband) to feel about them.

            I think going on a 3 week holiday with someone and hearing some kind of “we’re not on the same page speech” after would be very confusing. Feelings of being set up, used.

      • Maria Says:

        Meh, I have no interest in marrying somebody after six months either (I’m 34) and to be honest we don’t really know if that is what’s going on. Maybe this is her way of feelin out how he feels about the relationship. This guy seems a little unsure of the entire relationship and if he’s freaking out over taking pictures with this girl I have no idea why he even wants to go on vacation with her in the first place. He has no reason to be with her because he doesn’t seem to enjoy anything about her besides her family money. This is a perfect example of people using their words and stating how they are feeling in their relationship. He needs to tell her he is looking for something more casual and she needs to tell him she wants to be married to him at some point in the future and if they decide they are not on the same page, they can stop wasting each others time and end the relationship.

      • Julie Says:

        Because 25 year old women dont want to get married. Please! That would be the equivalent of a woman declaring she wont date men over 45 because some older men have ED.

        • HammersAndNails Says:

          “want to get married” /= waiting more than 6 months to propose is crushing their every dream to uterus dust.

          …and again. I get it. I really do. The 25 year old, the 30 year old… They can move on to the next one without much penalty so long as they don’t sink more than a year or two with the guys that don’t pan out. I’m sympathetic. It’s a rough hand and I hope modern technology can sometime soon pad this out a bit as modern lifestyles, and life expectancy, are wildly out of sync with fertility biology here.

          • bbdawg Says:

            Dude, seriously…cancel this trip ASAP!!!

            Sorry but as annoying as this woman might sound, the OP is making a huge mistake in leading her on or at least not saying what is on his mind. Regardless of what anyone thinks of her wanting to get married, the OP owes her the courtesy to let her go NOW because the clock is ticking and this woman has stated that she wants a family and marriage.

            If you don’t want that, LEAVE, NOW!!! This will give her more time to heal AND to find another man she will be able to marry eventually.

            As courtesy to her, PLEASE end this NOW and save her the heartbreak of breaking up during or right after the trip where she is expecting a proposal. And save money in addition to this.

            This woman is wrong to be so pushy but the OP will be pretty cruel if he keeps playing along to this charade.

            This story and the OP’s statement about his GF coming from a “great family” reminds me a little bit of Pippa Middleton and her ridiculously handsome boyfriend who is obviously above her league in terms of looks and after 3+ years isn’t proposing now or ever…and is using her “great family” for social climbing obviously…me thinks the OP has a few ulterior motives and that is why he is really shrugging along…he’s enjoying the ride, but NOT looking forward to the destination…

          • Julie Says:

            Just like every guy won’t just sit there bobbing his head up and down agreeing with a woman’s plans to get married when he has no interest in doing so, most 38 year old women arent planning their wedding 15 minutes after they meet every guy.

            Women get hit by the baby rabies and pressure to settle down at various ages. It isn’t just the 38 year olds. A lot of women feel pressured to be married by 30 so they can pop out 2 kids before 35 and because some believe their looks fade after 30 (I know I did). Women who want a lot of kids get hit by marriage and baby rabies even younger around their early to mid-20s. Thats why I don’t buy the reasoning “I can’t date women my own age because they are all pressuring me to marry them”.

            • Nicole Says:

              And some women never get “baby rabies”… I love kids (I’m surrounded by them all day at work) but I am not a baby person. I’m open to adopting older kids – even toddlers – but I studiously avoided ever dating any guy who wanted bio kids and didn’t have them already.

              But I do get H and N’s point. If a 25 year old is desperate for marriage and kids with you after 6 months, a guy can either break things off or tell her he needs more time without being seen as lacking compassion. The whole “time is running out” mindset puts a ton of pressure on men (and women) to hurry into marriage and family before they would normally feel the relationship has reached that point.

              • Julie Says:

                I totally agree with you that some women simply don’t want children or are ambivalent about it. I know several *married* women in their late 30s who either decided not to have children or are still willy nilly about it at 38.

                I see your point about the time pressure. However, I don’t think the OP would be seen as lacking compassion if he actually did break things off or asked for more time. The problem is that he is doing neither. I don’t think 25 year olds who are ready to start a family appreciate being strung along by an ambivalent boyfriend either.

  7. Nicki Says:

    I only have one piece of advice for the OP because it’s all so ridiculous: End this relationship ASAP.

  8. Damien Says:

    “British guys…are frequently astonishingly verbose.”

    Yes it is true. I’ve known this for years. They use 100 words when 5 are sufficient. You have to get used to it if you enjoy communicating with these guys. As for this being a turn-off back at home, not so, because this is the norm among most blokes in England.

    “they consistently appear to be drawn to domineering and bitchy/bratty women who completely run roughshod over them”

    I’m not sure about this. Having tried to hit on, date, and hook up with English women, I have to say that most have a cultural style that is particular to that country. Yes, it can be bitchy, and not so sexually appealing. That style doesn’t translate well abroad. If a bloke tries to find that peculiarity in a woman here, the personality that has that style is particularly rough.

    • ATWYSingle Says:

      You’re British? You just became infinitely more interesting to me.

      I will say that the Ex i mentioned the other day who liked pegging was a Brit. And, yes, as far as the Brits I’ve dated, many of the american women they’ve dated or married appeared to have pretty rough personalities. I’m including myself in that category. They love bitchy women.

      • Lucy Says:

        Maybe this is why as a British girl, I can’t find a boyfriend? Anyway let’s not get into my dating failings…but I definitely know what you mean about the men loving bitchy women. I have a male friend who told me that he loves bossy women, then many other men I know let you call the shots all the time and drive the entire relationship…to me, I find this passivity quite unappealing as it reminds me of times I’ve been mistreated. I don’t mean I want to sit back and do nothing, but I do want a guy who isn’t afraid to call the shots sometimes and be honest about things rather than coast around. Most guys who’ve broken up with me in the past, don’t even properly break up with me – they just ignore me in an attempt to make me break up with them instead or say they’ll get in touch sometime then I never hear from them again.

        • ATWYSingle Says:

          Glad you decided not to make your comment about your dating failings.

          • Lucy Says:

            Well I said that in jest…I think that would sound like ‘blame the world; not my choices’. I still want to say that you can’t really generalise about what British men are like. Heh maybe culturally us Brits are less forward than Americans. I think the guys I mentioned and how we both acted was more to do with our mutual lack of experience.

  9. Panther Says:

    First, I want to lie and say I don’t understand where you’re coming from, OP, but I do. She’s not quality, and you knew two weeks in that you weren’t marrying her, but she’s pleasant. And some sex is better than no sex. I’ve been there.

    What I don’t understand is how you’re 10 years older but live life with your head in the sand. Your questions consist of avoiding reality.

    Of course women your age will eventually put marriage pressure on you.

    Mid-20s: You get two years. Then you get the talk.
    Mid-30s: You get six months.

    If you don’t want that pressure, date younger, as Moxie said. And AnnieNonymous framed it in a way that jarred me. Your waffling is hurting your girlfriend in a biological sense. If she wants kids, she has a limited window of fertility. What you’re doing is wrong because you’re taking away her choice with your ambivalence.

    Grow a pair and let her go. Cultural differences aside, I don’t believe you’re ambivalent. You don’t want her. But you are indecisive. Be more decisive. For her sake.

    • mistori Says:

      If Panther is right & you know that you really don’t want to marry her, which is what it sounds like to me, then I agree! What you are doing is WRONG & SELFISH. You can probably have kids for the next 30 years or more if you find that you ever want to. She is lucky if she has 3 ! It is just plain cruel! Tell her the truth & then let her decide, then it is on her if she stays, not you.

  10. Damien Says:

    “She’s hot, but the sex isn’t great or frequent.”

    Well mate, that’s your reason right there about why to end this. If a woman is hot, she arouses you, and you want to have sex with her.

    That being said, I’ve noticed that attractive and sexy women are not as good in bed as one would think. That’s fine if you the guy still enjoys banging her and are having good orgasms. But it doesn’t sound like this is happening.

    I understand. Dating is hard for guys too. This may be the only way to get any dates and sex in between dry spells. The vacation is booked. Don’t bring up the expected marriage proposal now, unless you can get a refund if this blows up in your face before the vacation. Go on the vacation with her. At least you can both have a good time and get the time to see if things gel. If not, things will run its course. If things sink, fine. Move on and start looking for a woman where the sex is great and frequent.

    • bbdawg Says:

      Damien I can almost see a letter from this woman one day:

      “I met a great guy we got along really well, talked about marriage and kids, he met my family and they got along…we had even booked a 3-week trip and boom he waited all that long to tell me he never wanted kids or marriage and that he thought I was a nice person but could not see a long-term future with me. Looking back he was a bit quiet and did not take initiative when I brought it up, but I don’t understand why someone who doesn’t see a future with you books a 3-week holiday with you???”

      The OP is being an asshole because he wants to avoid conflict and feels entitled to the benefits of a relationship without commitment when the only reason the GF is pursuing this is because she thinks he is Mr. Future Husband…the longer he drags this on, the greater the drama at the end. Do unto others…

      To my eyes this trip story is HUGE COSTLY MISTAKE that should be avoided while there is still time.

  11. Maria Says:

    Hard to say exactly what’s going on because we don’t know if he’s been leading her to believe they were in the same page because he’s too nervous/spineless to say he isn’t interested in marriage or if she ignores his cues because she is so desperate to be married. I also wonder if she feels the same way about the sex. What baffles me is that he has picked an arbitrary amount of time to stay with her until what? I can understand a fear of being single for men and for women but if it’s so clear that he is not on the same page (or planet really) and he isn’t sexually satisfied then what is the point?? Fear of not being single? Can’t be a gold digger because he’d definitleh want to marry her if he wanted her family money. I guess he’s just complacent/non confrontational so he’ll just stay even though he can see he won’t give her what she wants. Op should be a good man and break up with this woman so she can find a man who might be on the same page as her (yes there are men who want to fall in love and marry too!) and quit wasting her damn time. You are not in love with her, you’re not sexually satisfied and she’s pushing you to get married, I have no idea why you are even with this woman! Maybe you should find women to date who are also interested in casual relationships.

  12. DrivingMeNutes Says:

    Yet another grown ass man coming to the Internet asking how to do the “right thing?” Do you really need a bunch of idiots on the Internet to give you moral guidance? Don’t you have a rabbi or priest you can turn to? What is it that you’re looking for here?

    Here’s the answer to your retarded questions since we’re all anonymous. You’re both adults. And, well into adulthood at that. I am too. Here’s what I figured out:

    You are responsible for your actions. She is responsible for hers. So, no, you don’t need to tell her you’re not going to get engaged. No, you don’t need to warn her that you’re may not be in it for the long haul. No, you don’t need to break up with her to spare her heartbreak. Just as she apparently doesn’t feel it necessary to come out and announce that she expects something from you. You’re both equally responsible for the outcome of the relationship.

    • HammersAndNails Says:

      As much as I would like to hit that thumbs up button, it’s just not the compassionate thing to do. Being in an exclusive romantic relationship someone is an implied statement that men and women understand. If he wanted to keep things casual, where I would have agreed that her expectations are not grounded, the time for that is past. Morally, he should tell her, and tell her soon after the trip.

      • mistori Says:

        I agree with taking the compassionate route. I agree that they are each responsible for their own actions. This is what I see as the difference: Although it would be better if she came right out and told/asked him about marriage, I don’t think what she is doing is ambiguous & I think the OP has clear info to base a decision on as to whether or not he wants to continue the relationship for whatever reason & for however long. However, what he did was a little different & she does not have the same information on which to base her decisions. Ever hear of lying by omission? He is not being completely honest. Whether or not the girl expects a proposal on the vacation is not the major issue. The major issue is that she clearly has an expectation of marriage & kids with him, whether it is now or later. By keeping his mouth shut & not rocking the boat he is allowing her to continue to keep that expectation & he did that deliberately & knowingly. That shows lack of integrity & is a form of dishonesty. So the girl in turn is not completely responsible for the decision she makes because she is not making it based on the right information. He may not technically owe her anything but there is such a thing as the right thing to do in life if you have any spiritual values. The right thing to do is to not lie by omission, to not lie by knowingly allow someone to continue to make an assumption that is incorrect. He has done this so far & the right thing to do is to clear it up whether before or after the trip. It is wrong to mislead people. He won’t go to jail for it & can’t be sued for it, so it is not legally wrong, but it is morally wrong & it is cruel. So how one views it is a matter of their value system.
        Side note: regardless of whether the girl did the right or wrong thing I still believe in keeping your own side of the street clean.

      • DrivingMeNutes Says:

        This imbecile asked for our opinions, so I don’t fault you at all for expressing yours.

        But, the reality is, you’re no more authority on compassion and morality than anyone else here. In fact, if the OP shared your strict moral code, he would have already dumped this girl instead of consulting with us. I’m skeptical that anyone here really practices the “full disclosure” they advocate. I’m sure Jesus never told anyone to “shit or get off the pot.”

        Here’s a countervailing convention that’s been around longer than any of us: All is fair in love and war.

        And, in all seriousness, adults really need to take responsibility for the stuff that happens to them in their relationships, and stop trying to enforce imaginary rules. The sanctimonious commentary here obviously reflects a lot pain and blame.

        • maria Says:

          you don’t seem to take any issue with spouting off a ton of advice when women write but a guy writing makes you confused and irate? also, giving somebody advice doesn’t always mean you have followed said advice in the past, or will always be able to see clearly in your own life, but reading something in black and white with no emotions attached makes it a lot easier to dispense advice, which i assume is what people writing in are looking for. what a person you are talking to or writing to or your shrink does in their day to day has NOTHING to do with the advice they give. whether this dude takes it, or reads any of it is on him but you know, this is an advice column so people are going to give him advice.

          and dragging along a dead relationship when its clear the other person is in love and wants to move things to a new level is low, and I know for a fact that had it been a woman who wrote in about not being itnerested in anything about the man she is dating besides his family money, you’d have a whole lot of advice to give, and it sure as shit wouldn’t be “alls fair in love and war” yeah people are responsible for their own actions of course, both male and female but just like in other aspects of life, there is accountability.

          • fuzzilla Says:

            Prior comments makes me think he’s been in the OP’s shoes a time or two.

          • mistori Says:

            To DMN & Maria,

            DMN is right in that it is “only” my opinion. Also he is right that in the past I have been hurt & have placed blame. I have become conscious of that & worked on it & have become much better at accepting responsibility.

            Maria is also right in that none of us are perfect & have trouble in being objective about our own lives which is why we go to others (whoever they may be) for advice. We sometimes fall short but that doesn’t mean that when others ask us for advice that if we can see something clearly that we shouldn’t relay the info in a kind way.

            Upon further thought, the girl in this situation has not been totally responsible because she is not being totally direct & she is possibly making assumptions. We don’t know for sure, but perhaps she is even handling things in this indirect manner so as to be manipulative, whether conscious or not. However, the problem I see is this. Although all may be fair in love & war, it would be different if this girl didn’t want kids or if she already had kids or if she was in her mid to late 40’s or even if she was 50 & that opportunity passed her. But the point is that she has a very small window of opportunity left to have her own biological children. So my advice to the OP would be that regardless of who is right & who is wrong, please be aware that if you do not want the extra time to date her to truly consider marriage with her, then you have the power in your hands to possibly negatively & irrevocably alter this woman’s life forever. She does not have that power over you. If you marry, you can divorce & if you break up you can find other women. But if she loses her window, that is it for her. She may find another man, but she very likely will not be able to have her own biological children again so if you really don’t think there is any chance of you ever wanting to have children with her in the foreseeable future then the kind thing to do would be to let her know so that she can decide for herself if she would prefer to try to pursue having children with someone else. I know it might be a hard thing for you to do.

        • BostonRobin Says:

          Right, the LW is going to do whatever he wants anyway. I don’t really get why most of these people write in at all. The stories all start to blur together after a while.

          We’ve all been strung along at some point, I’m sure. So I’m guessing that a lot of these comments reflect that: “OMG how could you! This is so cruel!”

          At this point I’m convinced that most people are really horrible at dating and you need to have really good instincts and boundaries to survive. I mean, this guy’s gf thinks they’re going to be getting married. But, has she even asked the hard questions? I’ve learned to ask the hard questions sooner rather than later. Makes me come across as rather blunt at times, but I have grown completely intolerant of “surprises.”

          • Lucy Says:

            I need to try that hard questions thing. I completely get where you’re coming from. The first way I learnt this was from a jerk boyfriend – so he was really not compassionate and hurtful but it did make me think about broaching important questions sooner rather than later.

            This man just needs to find a quiet place to sit down and have a heart to heart conversation with her – somewhere where she doesn’t feel cornered. It’s cruel to string her along when he’s ambivalent. He needs to tell her for sure what he isn’t telling her – so she has the freedom to choose whether she wants to continue. Otherwise he has all the information available to him to make a decision about the relationship but she doesn’t.

            I think they should have this conversation before they go on holiday. I know some posters think they should go anyway and see if something changes, but I really think this a long time to spend in each other’s personal space – especially when there are expectations on her side.

            For instance, I once went on a long weekend to Rome with a boyfriend for 4 days. This was several years ago now and only now do I realise that he was probably thinking about whether to continue the relationship at that point. I was unaware at the time. Anyway, there was a lot of tension during that trip and we had a few heated arguments and it ruined the whole thing for me. It wasn’t the romantic trip I expected. We broke up about 6 months later.

    • The D-man Says:

      Eh, normally I’d agree but noted his concern that he might be leading her on. If he thinks that, then he probably is, and the very least he can do is get it out in the open.

      • Lucy Says:

        Yeah he might find it a hard conversation but you can’t base a relationship on dishonesty…I think if he thinks they might break up anyway, it’s better to do it this way by having an honest conversation which may make or break things than to coast along and all of a sudden disappear when he makes his mind up.

  13. jaclyn Says:

    My boyfriend (now husband) and I were dating for six months before we went on vacation to Costa Rica. His female friends were putting a lot of pressure on him prior to the trip – they’d ask in front of us both if there would be any good news when we came back. It was very sweet that they were supportive, but I really didn’t think it was helping. My husband told me that he wasn’t ready before we left, and thankfully that took the pressure off and I wasn’t disappointed on our trip, waiting for a ring. If – and only if – you think there is a chance that you may eventually decide you’d like to marry her then you should tell her now that you really care about her, but aren’t ready to propose on this trip.

    If you don’t think this relationship will lead to marriage, then you need to break up with her immediately. As others have noted, the window of opportunity for her to have children who are biologically related to her is rapidly closing. She doesn’t have another 6 months to waste with a guy who isn’t going to marry her and have children with her. If you care about her at all, you won’t want to be the person who wasted a year of her life and kept her from having the chance to meet a guy who is ready to get married and would make her dreams come true.

    There’s nothing wrong with being a 38 year old guy and wanting to take your time dating. But you should limit yourself to either women who don’t want children, or women who are in their late 20s/early 30s if you need to take two years to be sure. And if you want to date younger women you should do so now, because in a few years it will be a bit harder for you to date these women since there will be more of an age gap. Most women in their early 30s will not consider dating a 38 year old man to be a deal breaker, but the older you get the more younger women will be concerned about the age gap. Obviously, there are lots of couples with age gaps, so it isn’t impossible, but it will get harder. Many women are a bit skeptical about a never-married man in his 40s, wondering why he didn’t get married sooner.

  14. Ishtar Says:

    Men from the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia are in general much more passive than American men, in my experience. In fact, as someone who has grown up there (in Northern Europe), I actually find American men a bit too aggressive. Men from Southern Europe (including France, with some caveats for the latter) are more aggressive as well.

    But again, there are a lot of cultural differences within the UK as well. In the North of the UK you are likely to find people a lot more straightforward. And honestly, these are the peculiarities specific to different regions of the world. You just have to accept them, or stick to dating your own people if you can’t handle them. The style of communicating is different. Have you ever talked to a German? Lots of words. My SO and his family are from Southern Europe and they are VERY verbose. I have extended family from Italy and again, lots of words. That’s just the way it is over there. And believe me, verbosity is not the most difficult trait to handle.

    (And let’s not forget that all of this is very class-dependent as well.)

    • Ruth Says:

      Honestly I think it’s the stiff upper lip kinda thing. In the UK it’s still not looked on in a good way to be emoting all the time. Constantly focusing on how your feeling and expressing it is much more of an american thing. Men are expected to be cool and in control which I suppose could be seen as passive? I agree that I also find American men a bit too aggressive so it’s very much a cultural thing.

      • Ishtar Says:

        And ‘British people in New York’ are hardly representative of Brits in general anyway. I could easily supply a counter anecdote of my own, namely that most of the white British men I’ve met are married to Mediterranean, French, Iranian or Indian women…very smart, beautiful and accomplished women with a very feminine side.

        Probably the British men the author encounters in NYC are very image-obsessed because NYC is a very image-obsessed place. Like it or not, that’s the reputation of the city in foreign parts.

  15. Snowflake Says:

    I do not get a sense that the LW is being ambivalent. Its more he doesn’t have the balls to just state upfront what he wants. He knows what he wants clearly its not the same what she wants but for what ever reason he does not speak his mind. He just placates his gf. Pretty much she has stated all her needs up front, he agreed just to agree, how shitty of a person is that.

    Put aside her, what has stopped him from actually coming clean about what he sees for his future? What does he have to lose by being honest, not just with her but with himself. This just isn’t a white lie, its a string of lies fed to her to make her think he is in this for the long haul.

    Dude seriously just tell her, and in my opinion, tell her before you go on vacation.

    • bbdawg Says:

      IMO he likes her family and what he would gain from marrying her financially and socially…he is enjoying the trappings that is why he is playing along…if this woman had come from a working class family where he’d stand to gain nothing from the possible marriage, it is likely he would not have dragged this along thus far.

    • Jenny Says:

      You think going along is lying? I mean in all fairness, what’s a dude to do? Say each time a serious topic comes up, “when you ask if I’d live in X city, are you explicitly referring to living there with me”, or “that’s nice you like a big ring, but I’m not getting you one.” I mean seriously, he may just want to have kept the relationship going the first few months. Fair no?

      • bbdawg Says:

        Jenny, in this case he is lying.

        He has told the whole internet – but not his girlfriend – that he isn’t interested in marrying her or having kids in the near future and that although he is “hot” and “comes from a great family”, the sex isn’t as good or as frequent as he would like. He KNOWS her plans and he is the half that is needed to make them a reality. He must have given her SOME indication that there was interest or she would not have made the effort.

        As one of the male commenters said above, when you agree with a LTR with a woman where you meet her family, discuss children, savings and everything you know where this is going, if he was not OK with this he should have said he wanted casual dating.

        It’s not the OP’s fault that marriage is on the GF’s agenda, but considering the biological issues here, as a matter of compassion, he should let her go as soon as possible so she can meet a man who will want to marry her and have a child with her. By lying he is harming her greatly because he is taking time from her that she could be spending finding someone who is on the same page as her, as her fertility window closes.

      • mistori Says:

        Fair maybe at first, because it could be awkward, but it sounds like he let it get out of hand.

  16. Fyodor Says:

    Is it really 100 percent clear that he doesn’t want to marry her? I don’t necessarily get that impression.

    He sounds like kind of a wishy-washy shallow person who doesn’t know what he wants, but isn’t head over heels in love with her.

    I think that he needs to get to ground internally on what he wants and whether there is a realistic chance of him marrying her. If not, then let her know and get out.

  17. Fyodor Says:

    I also don’t agree with Moxie’s characterization that the woman is domineering- this seems more like giddy romantic hint dropping than anything else. I don’t think that she’s trying to trap or pressure him into anything so much as show her interest and see if he’s on the same page.

    • Yvonne Says:

      I agree, I think that a woman her age who wants marriage and kids is wary about getting involved with a man who doesn’t. So she drops hints. If she gets no resistance, she is going to drop a few more. I don’t see any “bitchy/bratty” behavior in the letter. If she was really domineering, I think she’d be putting more overt pressure on him.

      • fuzzilla Says:

        But they took pictures with her family at her birthday dinner…I mean, it’s practically like she held a gun to his head. *eye roll*

        I agree, I don’t see how she’s pushy. I guess you don’t talk about engagement rings with someone you’re casually dating, but I think it’s entirely normal to be like, “Some day, when I get married, I’d like XYZ” or “We would totally play way better music at the reception if we ever got married” or whatever. I went to a wedding with my BF the other day and he made some comments about, “Maybe that’ll be us some day,” and I just kinda smiled like, “Yeah, maybe.”

        True, I don’t have the OP’s problem of not being that into my partner, but I’d probably think a for-real proposal would be a bit nutty at less than a year in. I think those little “testing the waters” comments are entirely appropriate, however, provided everything’s going well (and if things aren’t going well, then hey, you’re smart to test the waters before jumping in. If you tested the waters in good faith and got a false positive result, that’s on your partner, not you).

  18. Alex Says:

    I suggest he is a colourful douche who should be placed in a lorry with petrol and sent to Knightsbridge!

    For dating for 6 months, the op gets to be the bf for all practical purposes.

    The OP is in safe mode, which is really unsafe for the girl. He should clarify that he’s still getting to know phase and either slow things down or full stop things

  19. Julie Says:

    Wonder how well it would go over if she stopped taking birth control and communicated her intentions toward him as badly as he has communicated his intentions toward her?

  20. Kyra Says:

    I feel sorry for this girl… She’s involved in the relationship enough to think she’s about to become engaged, and he’s barely even lukewarm about her.

  21. Donnie K Says:

    There’s not much to add here. This relationship needs to end sooner rather than later. At the risk of sounding insensitive:

    Treat it like a band-aid.

  22. Jenny Says:

    I’m a bit surprised by the responses here. When a 40 year old woman writes in lamenting her broken 8 month relationship, we jump and say “get over it” “he was never going to marry you” “stop pressuring men”…. Suddenly we’re all up in arms for this other woman’s window of opportunity?

    • HammersAndNails Says:

      Literally like 72 hours ago someone who has been separated for 3 years “needs time to heal”….

      To be fair, we can only ever give advice to the party that writes in. If she wrote in we would tell her a 6 month timeline is aggressive and to back off for a while. Since he wrote in, all we can tell him is that if thats her timeline and you know it, get onboard, tell her your perspective and try to compromise, or get out of her way and let her find someone that will give her what she wants.

  23. Lele Says:

    Awesome! This guy is playing the “plausible deniability” game as tightly as a woman would. Keep up the good work, mate!

  24. spiceweasel Says:

    I know it is just reiterating what everyone else is saying, but how does he tell her he doesn’t want to get engaged? By saying exactly that. I do not want to get engaged. Not now. Possibly not ever. And not to you. You can do it nicely. You can be very direct. My God, just be honest.

    Will she be hurt? Probably. Will she be angry. Probaby. But in the end you have made it where you can both look for someone that will make you happy. She can find someone that wants to go down that marriage/children path with her, and he can find someone that he might be more excited about.

    Six months might seem fast for some people and perfectly normal for others. While everyone should take the appropriate amount of time to get to know the person they are planning on spending their lives with, at 38 years old, I think it is less about beating the biological clock, and more about knowing what you want.

    I am in my early thirties and I think that after six months I have a decent idea if the person I am dating is someone that has try long-term potential, or someone that is not a good match for me. And if I were interested in marriage and children, then I would want to have some idea of where they other person sees this heading too.

  25. Sarah Says:

    You need to cut her loose. She wants to be married (just to anyone, probably), and you’re wasting valuable time for her. I mean, go to Costa Rica if you’ve already booked it, but plan for a suuuuper messy breakup afterward, as 1. you’ve been leading her on, and 2. every day that you don’t propose generates more resentment in her. Really. Just go ahead and set aside a whole day for this breakup.

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