Why Won’t He Pretend He Wants To Get Married?

October 27th, 2017

Commitment, Marriage, NEW!


Name: Lucy
Question: I recently broke up with my bf who’s 36 and seemed to be really evasive about commitment. We dated for six months. I didn’t need to get a marriage proposal right there and then but I wanted to know that he wanted to get married one day and was not an eternal bachelor type. After all this evasion he said he would like to settle down “in twenty years‘ time”. When I brought up what he said later, he denied saying it. I just got fed up and broke up with him because I would like to get married within the next 3-4 years. He’s now sending me love letters asking for another chance and he turned up at my work out of the blue. I still couldn’t trust him so I turned him down.

One of my friends is having trouble getting her boyfriend to commit and something I noticed is that he came up with the exact same excuse my ex did: “I don’t want to set a timeline because it will ruin the surprise of a proposal”. In my view, you can commit to a vague timeline and that doesn’t mean a surprise is ruined. Do all men read from the same phrase book or something?
Age: 27

Men use the vague timeline gag because it works. Let’s be honest: if your guy had given you a rough estimate of wanting to be married within the next five years, you likely wouldn’t have left him. Words are words. Anybody can say anything and – in this specific context – nothing can be held against them in a court of law.

My gut says you did the right thing by walking away from your boyfriend. If, after six months, he can’t indulge you by saying he’d like to be married to someone in the next few years, then he probably hadn’t even considered the possibility of marrying you. I doubt he was joking when he said he wanted to get married in twenty-years time. That was his way of telling you to back off.  Which brings me to my next point:

It sounds like you were bringing this subject up fairly frequently. Six months is a short period of time to be trying to pin down a person about whether or not they see marriage in the future.  That could be why your guy rfused to give you an answer. Maybe you were being a bit overbearing about all this? There’s one of two reason why men offer such nonsense excuses when pressured to declare their intentions.

1. They have no intention of making the relationship long-term.

2. They very much want to make the relationship long-term or even permanent, but aren’t ready to set anything in stone.

It’s okay for men to take their time before engaging in marriage talk. They’re not obligated to commit to something just because you have a specific timeline. At least your friend’s boyfriend is alluding to wanting to get engaged. Most men are decent enough that they wouldn’t toy with women about such a thing. Your guy couldn’t even fake it. You could give him another chance, just keep your options open. If he doesn’t want to offer a possible window of time before he sees things moving in a more permanent direction while knowing that’s what you want, then you’re a free agent.

If you take him back under the guise of a clean slate, this issue will rear its ugly head again in a few months. He probably does miss you, but you can’t get back together with him unless he concedes a bit and meets you half-way. They’ll just be words, of course, so you can’t hang your hopes on them.



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21 Responses to “Why Won’t He Pretend He Wants To Get Married?”

  1. fuzzilla Says:

    Huh. Kinda the opposite of most letters here. Usually women write in making a million excuses for a guy who’s jerky or just lukewarm about them, but this one took him at his word and took action.

    Matter of fact, she seems so together I’m not really sure what her question actually is. Wondering if she did the right thing, should give him another chance..? I’m reading between the lines because, “Do men all read from the same playbook or what?” belongs in a bitch session with friends and booze, it’s not really a clear question for an advice column.

    • Lucy Says:

      My question is basically about whether he is BS-ing me as he said that he wanted to settle down in twenty years and then he denied it and said “I didn’t say that” and then said he did want to settle down in a letter he sent me recently. It’s hard to stick to my guns sometimes when he’s pulling out all these romantic gestures with the letters and the sweet things he said and I actually cried reading them. I’m not ready to dislike him yet.

      • EANx Says:

        Trust what people do, not what they say. There’s two things you need to decide:

        1) who will do the asking. It’s usually the guy but sometimes the girl wants to.
        2) when the asking should occur by. Fish or cut bait.

        Sometimes people aren’t on the same page but if one person wants to be married and the other wants to have fun, it might be time for someone to move on.

  2. Jeff Smith Says:

    If you are interested in a quick divorce, then do all you can to manipulate him to into marrying you, like you are now.
    In reality, you should appreciate the fact that he is not saying things (yet, you may get him there) to string you along.
    “Why Won’t He Pretend He Wants To Get Married?” WHAT? Umm because he could be an honest person, do you want him to pretend?

    Please, don’t get back with him. Your just not a match.

    • Lucy Says:

      No I don’t want him to pretend anything. My question is basically about “Is he BS-ing me?” because his letter goes against things he’s said to me in person and it’s just really confusing to me that he has backtracked and I really don’t how to tell which things he says are true and which are not. I’m genuinely really upset about it. I’m not trying to manipulate him either. I broke up with him because I found it really hard to trust him because of this back and forth of wondering where I stood.

  3. 40something Says:

    I’ll try to look at this from all sides. This guy is 36 and quite frankly probably knows whether or not he would like to get married. However, he may not have known if he wanted to marry her. I think she wanted to get married in a bit of a faster time frame than 3 to 4 years. And you are correct that it sounds like she brought it up frequently within the six-month . which also indicates to me that she is on a much faster track. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that. So, she probably did the right thing for her in breaking up with him. It sounds like she’s looking for someone who knows they want to commit so she would be wise to focus her attention on people who are more interested in marriage and or family. They do exist. And he is probably better off keeping his options open and letting things evolve on more natural time frame for him. Whatever that is.

    Most men are pretty upfront about whether or not they want to get married eventually. I was with my ex from college for almost 7 years. We had a house (at 21) and lived together for about 5 1/2. He spoke openly about wanting to be married and hoping to have a marriage like his parents. However, as time passed it became clear to me that he did not want to marry me. I needed to pay off my school loans before we got married and I did- in 3 years. Then it was “we need to pay down the mortgage” and I knew there was always going to be a reason why we couldn’t get married. Why? Because he had no intention of marrying me. After we broke up and he reconnected with his first love, then she moved in after about two months and they were married within a year. That union did not last but it did reinforce my belief that if someone wants to marry you they will :-)

    Women have a tendency to make excuses for men as to why they don’t want to get married. And generally, not always, when men say things like “I would like to get married in 20 years” or a vague reason of why you shouldn’t get married yet, it’s a his nice way of maybe not wanting to let you go, but saying in a roundabout way that he doesn’t see himself married to you.

  4. UWSGal Says:

    This is a fairly simple problem to solve. Rather than asking the boyfriend when **he** would be willing to commit, the woman should communicate very clearly when *she* expects to get engaged, and make it clear that if that deadline is not met, she’d walk. This should be spelled out. “Honey, we’ve been together for X months and I really love you. As I said from the get go, my goal is to get married in the next [timeframe]. It is very important to me because I would like to start a family soon, and I don’t think I’d be able to stay in a relationship that doesn’t progress much beyond that point”. Boom. He knows he has to shit or get off the pot. But be ready to walk for real if the proposal doesn’t transpire. You’d be losing nothing anyway.

  5. Nia Says:

    In my experience, men and women have very different timelines. For men, take your woman’s timeline and double or even triple it.
    So for example, if after the first date you’re sold and want to see more, he’s going to take up to three dates to decide if he wants to keep seeing you.
    At one month when you’re ready to be exclusive, he’s going to need at least another couple months.
    And at 6 months, when you’re wondering where the ring is, he’s thinking that maybe in a year or so, if everything goes well, he’ll propose.
    The thing is, 6 months is a pretty short time to actually know someone if it’s starting from a first date (and it’s not FWB or something similar beforehand).
    You haven’t spent a full year with them.
    IMHO, here’s the general rule. Before you get engaged you should see your partner:
    Genuinely angry
    Handle a fight and a make up with you
    On a trip of more than a day
    Interact with his parents or family
    Interact with his friends
    Interact with or talk about his exes
    Interact with your friends/family
    Handle a challenge, whether that’s work, play, or relationship
    Handle a major purchase
    Handle a setback in life
    Drunk or under the influence (if he indulges)

    And honestly, that’s the tip of the iceberg. Until you’ve seen a wide variety of situations with this guy, you could be in for ugly surprises if you marry him or get engaged to him before you really know him!

    • fuzzilla Says:

      I didn’t really read her letter as, “We need to be married next year!” as much as, “He said he doesn’t want to be married, at all, to anyone, for at least 20 years, which will be way past my prime childbearing years, so if that’s the case, I’m walkin’.” I’m not really getting the naggy vibes that other people clearly did.

      But then I assume she’s wondering if she did the right thing if she’s writing in? Does she just want to bitch about men’s lack of commitment in general..? Essentially saying, “Why do men suck?” isn’t a real question seeking a real answer – at best, it’s just something you say to blow off steam that hopefully goes away once you’ve blown off said steam.

      • 40something Says:

        Valid point. But logically speaking, if a guy says he doesn’t want to get married for 20 yrs (and this is not a 22 year old guy we are talking about) and she clearly has a shorter time frame whether it’s one year, 5 years or 10 years, then they sound like they want different things. It sounds like she wants who someone who at least knows they want marriage and or a family, and this guy doesn’t sound like a fit. Yes, she can start seeing him again, as long as she’s good with what he is offering. But if she’s not, then that’s on her.

        On a humorous note, I think this guy is just saying whatever. How many dudes say “yeah, I think I wanna settle down in my late 50s.” Nah…

        • Lucy Says:

          Well the day after I broke up with him, he turned up at my work out of the blue and he said he wanted me back. I explained about the twenty years thing being a mental block for me and he said “I didn’t say that” and then he said “I meant within twenty years”…thing is while I don’t want to get married or have babies now, I want to start that process before my mid thirties as I am almost 28 now.

          He wrote me a letter. It arrived a few days ago but I’ve put it in a drawer for now. It was that letter that made him get in my head again. It was in that letter that he said (this is a direct quote):

          “I can understand you having a timeline in mind when it comes to marriage/kids…Believe me when I say that I want all that as well…It is important however to do all these things for the right reasons – because we love each other and it is the right thing to do. I really would like to move on from this 20 year thing – clearly a huge mistake on my part but I honestly did not mean it…Your suggestion of 3 years is very reasonable but I would caution against setting it in stone…setting plans against a rigid timescale can be an issue. It might seem like a small point, but the romantic in me would like to surprise my beloved with a proposal – some of the magic might be lost if there’s a strict timetable.”

      • Lucy Says:

        Yeah that’s what it is. I’m wondering if I have done the right thing but I felt very strung along. I don’t want to get married tomorrow. I just wanted to know that he does want to get married at some point in the future, doesn’t have to even know for sure if it’s me. I didn’t ask him all the time for months. I only brought this up recently with him. He also said to me “I don’t want you to leave me for a guy who’ll give you what you want in a year or so…”

        He asked me if I wanted to move in with him in March next year as he is looking to move 500 miles away…but I didn’t want to do without a trial period living with him between both of our workplaces first. He was reluctant when I brought it up and he didn’t want to move in-between our places. He wanted me to move to his city but this would be prohibitive for me due to travel costs as I earn a lot than him. He is a pilot and I work for a charity.

        • UWSGal Says:

          He is a pilot??? Or sweetie. You should really proceed with caution. Pilots are notorious for keeping “girlfriends” in every city which they frequent, not to mention staff that flies with them…. They are often players and not faithful. Just comes with the profession. And all this “I don’t like rigid timelines” is bullshit. You have a biological clock. You are entitled to your timeline. Truth is, when a man loves a woman, he doesn’t drag his feet much.

          • fuzzilla Says:

            Also beware the “I didn’t say that” guy (or gal). You can’t have a reasonable and productive conversation with someone who gaslights you and refuses to own their behavior.

          • 40something Says:

            Ah, good point. I missed the pilot part. Not always, but she is correct if they have a tendency to have lots of women in different cities. This does not mean that they are not nice people, they just may not be commitment material.

    • Lucy Says:

      I’ve met his family and friends, quite a lot of his family actually. That’s what confuses me – that he introduces me to family and yet tells me that he doesn’t want to settle down for twenty years…I’ve seen him in conflict situations/arguments. We are argued a few times as I’ve tried to have discussions with him when we went on weekends away as he’d always want to do what he wanted to do. I got upset once as he didn’t want to do this one thing I wanted to do even though we’d spent the day doing his things and he said to me “You can’t get your own way all the time…I don’t want a one-sided relationship”.

      • 40something Says:


        Only you can decide what is best for you. I think people misinterpret responses to questions on the blog with not wanting to marry someone means not loving them. I know many, many, men who loved the woman they were with, cared for her and lived with her, and still had no intentions of marrying her. On occasion, they also tried to get back with her as well (at least that was my experience and I’ve witnessed in others as well). On the flip side obviously many relationships progress to marriage. See The NY Times

  6. 40something Says:

    Argh! Why does my 2nd paragraphs disappear??? Anyway, I can’t help but feel you had an underlying reason for ending things. After reading your responses, did things feel one sided? Move to him? On his schedule? Generally 36 yr old men (and women) who like things their way, aren’t crazy about compromise. Not impossible- just not likely. Hence, maybe that’s why you ended things.

    If you want to be with him, then by all means be with him. Your decision. None of us have a crystal ball but YOU need to feel good about your choice- for your own benefit. Good luck!

  7. ? Says:

    Hi Lucy. A bit late in commenting, but hope this helps.

    Personally, I think you did the right thing. You were not too much concerned about the marriage timeline (which you sort of admitted), but needed solid info on where you stood with this pilot man. If he had been shown, though his actions and behaviour, how committed he was to you and your relationship, I bet you would not have written in, even if he had been equivocating over this whole marriage thing.

    I believe that if you have to write to an advice blog to ask what others think about your man’s feelings about you, then this is a pretty strong indication that he is less than enthusiatic about you and your relationship, despite what he may say to your face. I’m pretty sure a woman “knows” when a man is really into her. They can’t help but show it, and consistently so. You are just confused because his words do not seem to match his actions and behaviours.

    I know, I know. You said you were just hung up on that one statement about him wanting to get married in twenty years. I doubt you broke up with him over that one statement. It was just a pattern of behaviours from, and interactions with him, and that statement was just the last straw.

    To be honest I only know as much of your relationship as you have revealed here, but there seems to be some sort of power struggle going on here. I could be totally off base, but you seem to be trying to control the situation with him maybe because you feel insecure with him ? And he seems to be reacting to that through power plays of his own.

    Maybe he does care for you and maybe there is love there, but the dynamic between you two just does not seem healthy, based on what you have written here. This is just not a good omen for a happy, secure and strong relationship. Good luck

  8. Parenting Says:

    6 months of dating is enough time for a guy to know what his intentions are toward women in general and you specifically at this juncture in his life…and he did. His intentions toward women in general are to get serious in 20 years and toward you specifically is to date you with no plans towars the future. You are smart to get out.

    • Parenting Says:

      To clarify, most guys wont be planning a wedding after 6 months but they will know if they see you as a marriage prospect.

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