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Thread: Ask the Expert: Pre-Engagement Limbo

  1. #1
    Administrator kamurj's Avatar
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    Ask the Expert: Pre-Engagement Limbo

    Frustrated because you want to tie the knot and your long-term boyfriend still isn't ready? On August 9 - 11, Andrea Passman Candell M.A., San Francisco based Relationship Coach and Founder of link removed will host a discussion on "pre-engagement limbo."

    Originally Posted by Andrea Passman Candel
    Of course the process of getting married is unique to each individual. Not all women want to dash down the aisle and not all men are frozen in the tracks. However there is a common story about how a woman feels read to get married before her long term beau.
    Andrea has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Boston Herald, CBS Television. Andrea is currently collecting "pre-engagement limbo" stories for the HisColdFeet book project. If you're interested in sharing please email email removed.

    Feel free to post your "pre-engagement limbo" related questions in this topic.

    Andrea, welcome to eNotAlone and thank you very much for kindly agreeing to host this discussion for us.

    Note: Andrea will start posting replies tomorrow.

  2. #2
    Silver Member xmrth's Avatar
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    Re: Ask the Expert: Pre-Engagement Limbo

    Here's my question for Andrea:

    I've been with my boyfriend for almost 6 years now. We're 20 and 21 years old. He wont get engaged (but particularly, wont get married) unless his parents say it's okay. He says his mother tells him all the time to not get married (not to get married, as my boyfriend says, until he's maybe 25 or 26). I'm sure she might think he's thinking it as we've been together for so long. If we just started dating I might feel like waiting, but we've been together for 6 years now just about, and that makes me feel ready because of the length of our relationship. I feel like it's time for the next step already. Even just engagement and I'll wait a couple years.

    The thing is, his parents got married at 30 years old-- but they didn't meet until they were around that age anyway. So they might feel like he should do it like they did. My parents were: my mother 18 and my father 24, and they have said since I think my senior year of highschool (2 years ago) that if he wants to marry me then that's great and it's fine with them.
    Anyways, he said to me that if his parents told him it was okay to marry, then he would. But he needs that okay from his parents.
    My father tells me that one day my boyfriend wont be listening to them anymore and will marry me if he wants.

    I've gotten advice on the forum here that it's good to wait anyways, and because of that I believe waiting until maybe 23 or 24 is good (before I thought right now at 20 would be fine, but now I agree that 23 or 24 is fine). Waiting another 2 or so years after I'm out until he's 26 wouldn't kill me, but in any case, I DON'T want to have to wait until his parents say it's okay.

    Is there anything I can do, or is it true he wont always want to listen to his parents? I just don't want to have to wait years and years for someone ELSE'S desicion... and who knows if they'll tell him to wait until he's 30?? His parents are much older than mine. I'm surprised they don't want him to marry me so they can have grandchildren. I'm actually thinking maybe they'll say that but who knows.

  3. #3
    Platinum Member kellbell's Avatar
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    Hey there,

    I have a question. I have been with my boyfriend for over 3 years and we have living together for little over 2 years. I am ready for marriage and children. We are both 28, be 29 this year. Have very good careers, so we are not in school. He does not seem ready and skates arounf the issue if I bring it up. In your opinion, what are the chances of a live-in boyfriend proposing to the girl? I really want this work but at the same time I don't to wait around for something that might not come. Thank you so much for doing this and taking the time to read my post.

  4. #4
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    Hey Andrea,

    I met a guy in March 2004 in my grad class. From the day that I met him, I knew that he was the one that I was going to marry. Everything clicked just right. He is 25 and I am 24. He is from India, and never had a girlfriend before me. He said that no other girl had talked to him the way that I had, and he had never been attracted to any other girl. He really keeps to himself emotionally, and even his friends told me that I probably knew him better after two months, than they did after two years. He just keeps everything to himself. The only red flag I saw from the VERY beginning was that he never wanted to talk about the future.

    We dated for two months, and got into small arguments here and there; however, the entire time, I knew that he was perfect for me. Then, in May 2004, he broke up with me, saying that we were too different to be "together forever". I initiated NC and did not call him for a few months. Then, I called him on his birthday, wished him happy birthday, and invited him over to see my new house (in October 2004). We got back together that night, and have been together since then. I could feel that night, that he really had missed me. Stupid me did not initiate a conversation about the break, and, instead, jumped right back into the relationship with him.

    About two months ago, things were going really really great (we were spending lots of time together, etc.), and I asked him to meet my parents. In our culture, meeting parents is a big deal, as it means that this is the person we are serious about. He totally freaked out, and broke up with me. Told me that he didn't see a future in the relationship, and we should end it before there was more hurt. He was really sad, but he was insistent. He said that I should never blame myself, as I did nothing wrong. He said that after a year, he should feel like meeting my parents, and because he doesn't, we should end the relationship, because he doesn't want to hurt me further in the future.

    It has been two months since this, and I can't stop hurting. I know that I have done nothing wrong in the relationship ... I loved him with all my heart. My love is so pure for him, and I don't regret anything. I know there is no "change" I can bring in myself, and I do not want him to change either, except furthering the relationship. I called him a few times after the break-up, but to save myself anymore emotional distress, I stopped calling him over a month ago. He has not called me either. Why after all that we have shared, can he not even call?

    We were so close, do you think it's possible to get him back? Right now, I just plan on letting him go, and letting "fate" take it's course, whatever that may be. All of my friends and family just keep telling me not to call him and let him miss me. Is that the right thing to do? Do you think he's just afraid of commitment? It seems like everytime I brought up the future, he skirted around the issue, and at the end, just found reasons why it wouldn't work. Then he fleed. Is there anything I can do to show him that I really love him and would do anything to work on this with him?

    Thanks for reading!
    Blue

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  6. #5
    Professional Andrea Passman Candell's Avatar
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    Reply for Xmrth

    Hi Xmrth,

    Thank you for writing! Reading your post made me think of a few things. Aside from the fact that you have been dating your beau for 6 years - what are some other reasons that make you want to get engaged right now at this point in your life? Women tend to feel ready to get engaged before men do, and I don't know many men of this generation who feel ready to get engaged by 21.

    I get that you'd rather hear from him that he's not ready, and not have his decision be influenced by his parents. Sounds like you're not feeling so great that the "when" of the engagement should be approved by them. 21 is young, and him wanting his parents "okay" reflects that, and perhaps that he isn't ready right now.

    You ask, "Is there anything I can do, or is it true he wont always want to listen to his parents? I just don't want to have to wait years and years for someone ELSE'S desicion... and who knows if they'll tell him to wait until he's 30??"

    In response, (early) 20's are the years to grow, of course this varies for each person as people mature at different paces - but, these seem to be the years that people become more independent, they find themselves, and become more confident making their own decisions. Aside from this issue does he feel like he needs his parents okay when making other decisions (where to live, career issues, etc.)? Could you talk to him about how their okay effects him?

    Best,
    Andrea Passman Candell

  7. #6
    Silver Member xmrth's Avatar
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    Thanks for your response Andrea!

    Another big reason other than the length we've been together is that I want the responsibility because I feel like I'm "done" with everything else and have felt this way for many years now.
    We could just get a place together for starters but that's another thing his parents say he can't do.
    He isn't treated like a child at all-- not in the least bit. He has never had any "rules" because he has always been very mature and has never done stupid things over the years, but his parents seem to want to control his movements from here on concerning money and marriage.
    His reasons for always listening to his parents are because "they've never been wrong." But I don't think that means they've completely right about everything.

    To answer you on what else his parents seem to have a say in is they also direct him in his career (not what to do, but how to go about doing it and how to be sucessful). Living together is another thing his parents would "kill" him for-- but they don't mind we take vacations alone together or any of that.
    So I try to imagine if his parents were mine, and I can see where he's coming from having all that direction as it hasn't gone bad, but I can't fully agree that I'd like being told what big desicions are right for me.

    I'm wondering if this will change in a couple of years or if I'll just have to sit back and go along with it (do you know other cases where the parents have a say in what the male does, etc?) how does that turn out?)
    I'm willing to wait, but I'd like to better understand the hold up. I try to, but again, I personally wouldn't just not get married/wait if my own parents told me to wait. I'd do what I feel is right and I'm hoping he'll do that, too. He is very mature and would make his own desicions on these things-- if he could.

  8. #7
    Professional Andrea Passman Candell's Avatar
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    For kellbell

    Hi kellbell,

    I'm not so sure if how things turn out heavily depend on whether he's a live-in boyfriend or not. Some may say that if a couple is already living together - then guys may feel little incentive to hurry to tie the knot. But, it doesn't always work that way.

    At the sound of "the m word" many men respond with, "Can we talk about it later?" - or as you say, skate around the topic. These talks are difficult for men to have. But, from reading your post I would say the best way to find out what he's thinking is to set aside a time to have a conversation about the direction that the relationship is headed. (Of course planned when the timing is right and when you've each had a moment to gather your thoughts.)

    Men tend to be ready to get married later than women, and for most men contemplating tying the knot is a whole process in itself. What helps to have "the talk" is if women show their beau that they understand that getting married can be scary. An opening like, "I know that talking about engagement and marriage can be difficult....but I think it would be good if we share with each other our thoughts on..." - this gives them the impression that you get that it can be a tough talk to have, and that you're on their side. And, this comes accross differently than opening with, "When do you think we'll get engaged?" Starting off with questions like these seem to make men a little jumpy b/c they know we're expecting an answer.

    Having a conversation that includes any fears, as well as hopes, and his thoughts about marriage - should give you the insight you need to determine if you're both on the same page.

    I hope this helps, let me know if you have any more questions.

    Best,
    Andrea Passman Candell

  9. #8
    Professional Andrea Passman Candell's Avatar
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    For xmrth (part 2)

    Hi again,

    You wrote,

    "I'm wondering if this will change in a couple of years or if I'll just have to sit back and go along with it (do you know other cases where the parents have a say in what the male does, etc?) how does that turn out?)
    I'm willing to wait, but I'd like to better understand the hold up. I try to, but again, I personally wouldn't just not get married/wait if my own parents told me to wait. I'd do what I feel is right and I'm hoping he'll do that, too. He is very mature and would make his own desicions on these things-- if he could."

    It sounds like they think 21 is too young to get married, and they'd like him to wait a couple more years. At this point in his life, it looks like their word matters a lot to him. I can't predict if, how, and when their dynamic will change, but I can say that as he grows and becomes more independent, more confident, then I imagine he'll feel free to make his own decisions - Which could change the dynamic from needing their okay, to wanting their opinion.

    Hope this helps.

    Andrea

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    Member OceanEyes's Avatar
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    Hi Andrea, and thanks for your time and effort!

    I just had a more simple question, one in which may not be the same type you get, but I figured that you might have an educated answer on.

    I'm wondering what signs there may be present that say "I want to marry you". Could it be something he says or does that will suggest that he may be thinking of popping the question? How does a man who sees you as his future wife behave?

    I have a very hard time decoding the male brain at times, obviously!

  11. #10
    Professional Andrea Passman Candell's Avatar
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    Reply for BlueTrap

    Hi Blue,

    From reading your post it looks like you two may want different things and are moving the relationship in two different directions. You'd like to move it forward, and he has the brakes on. Instead of considering if it's possible to get him back, what about taking time to consider the behavior he's shown you. Do you want to be in a pattern with someone who you get close to, and then as you say "flees"?

    You write, "He really keeps to himself emotionally...The only red flag I saw from the VERY beginning was that he never wanted to talk about the future."

    You ask if there's anything you can do to show him you really love him? From what you described, it sounds like you did show him. It seems like this is more about him doing his own work to discover why opening up emotionally is so difficult, and why it is that he had the brakes on - even from the very beginning.

    Hope this helps.

    All the best, Andrea

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