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Been dating for a little over a decade, with no proposal in sight :(

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(sorry for the long post! There's a TLDR at the bottom)

I am an almost 30 year old woman. I have been dating the same guy since I was 17. I like to think that we "grew up together", we got to go through our twenties not feeling weird about our futures because we always had each other, no matter what. We love each other a lot, and I relate to him better than any other person on this planet-- I'm hoping keep this relationship despite everything.


While being together for so long is the best, it's also a problem. We've been together more years than some marriages last. For the first 8 years I was never bothered by us not being married. I had other parts of my life to worry about and put effort into. Everyone else annoyingly would ask why we hadn't tied the knot yet, and I would just shrug it off with a bit of humor.


He said early on that he only wanted to get married, have kids, etc, after he was done with his PhD (which I felt was fair at the time, it can be a long process). He started that in 2010. After five years in the program (which was supposed to be his last, according to this stipend), every subsequent year after that he would proclaim that "this is the year I'm gonna be finished with it!". It is now 2017 and he's just starting to make some actual head-way-- so who knows how long it will really take.


Now, I am starting to feel like there's nothing humorous about it. I've held myself back from traveling (we have only taken one personal week vacation since 2010), I only fantasize about the jobs/opportunities I might be able to apply for in other cities/countries. I've taken very few steps in pushing my life forward in recent years. I don't want to start something good for myself only to stop to plan the wedding I've been waiting for, at the time that HE decides is okay. I feel very stale, unloved, and stupid for having agreed to wait without a proper timeline. I used to be this very independent person, and what I hate about this situation most is that it reveals to me that I wasn't. I was depending on him to enter the next stage of my life, which I was ready to start a few years ago. It's humiliating.


We had this long discussion about his conditions for getting married about a year ago. He said that he would take that off the table as a condition, and start to really think about our future together. But we've not talked about it since. It's been a hard year for me because every single person we know is getting married or engaged-- all those couples only having met within the last three years. I've already watched people meet each other, get close, get married, start their lives together, have kids, etc.


I feel terrible because I've started to really resent every other couples who are moving forward, because I know that everyone has their version of a dissertation on the sidelines of their wedding. People get married while still in school, people plan weddings through all sorts of personal stuff-- and my boyfriend believes that there wasn't room for our future while he was dragging his feet on his dissertation. I don't wanna pity myself with that fact when I hear about a new engagement or attend a wedding-- I wanna be happy for people! Furthermore, I don't want our proposal to be preceded by one heavy, sad discussion about it. I want to feel like the occasion was right and the timing was far away from an emotional break down. Everyday that goes by makes that less possible for me. If I want that moment I have to go back to the way I was, and just patiently wait without thinking about it. That sucks.


I know I shouldn't feel like this if I know someone really loves me, and I know he does (and he really is a great guy outside of this issue-- I promise). I was once this super carefree person who didn't put any worry into these kinds of things and now I feel like a bitter old maid. I worked on my own career (as much as I could in this city), I tried my best to make every other part of my life fulfilling, but it hurts that there's this one important part missing and maybe I'm the only one who thinks it is important. I feel like I'm wasting my life. It sometimes feels like I'm losing the desire to get married to someone who won't make time for this after all these years.


I am at my wits end but I don't know if I am just being childishly impatient. Maybe I should give up on being married? At this point I'm just looking for any insight at all.



TL;DR: dating my boyfriend for a little over a decade. He only wants to get married after he gets is PhD, which started in 2010. I'm getting old, wanna start the next stage of my life but I promised to wait. I feel like I'm wasting my life but I want to be with him for the rest of my life.

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