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i’m so confused about what to do next... (getting married advice)


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2 minutes ago, throoawao said:

that’s a funny way of life working and fate finding you, thanks for sharing your story! 

if i knew with no doubt that he never wants to or plans on marrying me, i wouldn’t stay a second longer with him. 

the problem is that he doesn’t tell me that, he says he wants to but i don’t see any effort going towards that. i don’t want to burden him with all the effort, i’d be down to work with him on it even. i just don’t know how to approach that situation. 

i don’t want to leave him for a later resort. it feels like unsettled, if i were to end things with him id end them for good, and find myself someone else. but waiting for him to build himself up just to get back to him, seems like a headache. id love to work with him on that now, if he would be down and if it wouldn’t hurt his pride

He doesn't want to marry you because he is not proposing marriage and setting a date for a wedding  - it's about action not words and not about words of doubt -take that from the prior "runaway bride" I was.  Please don't take his waffling as "he wants to marry me he's just not sure" - certainly if he said "I want to get engaged in two months from now when I have X and Y settled" that would be fine -that's a specific date.

I think the promise ring idea is silly as is the getting engaged without a specific wedding date -that would be just to pacify you.  You want a partner who is 100% enthusiastic about marrying you -marriage is hard enough without one person feeling dragged to the altar.

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I remember when someone asked me when my wife and I would try and have a child.  I told them "when we can afford it" and they laughed and said "If you wait until you can afford it you will never have

I agree with the others. Holding your virginity over his head is pretty childish. You decided to have sex. It takes two. You gave it to him and that was your choice. If you really wanted to wait for m

He seems really unsure about marriage after three years and he's saying he can't give you an answer as to if and when you'll get married. He doesn't seem sure and is being really vague. I'm sorry to s

3 minutes ago, throoawao said:

i’m not working becuase i’m a full time student who is simultaneously interning in labs and applying to grad programs. 

i’d be fine with accepting this for the next few years, just i wanted him to make that promise that it would be before 30 WHICH IS TOTALLY REASONABLE. and he was just scared to do that he was thinking of worst case scenarios of what could happen and he could potentially ruin my life.

idk man... idk if this is his way to trying to get me to leave him or what. whenever i bring up leaving he gets sad and we reminisce old memories and jsut cry together. this is such a headache already. 

I used to cry and get sad and be terrified of ending my not quite right relationships with men who wanted to marry me yesterday -or right away.  Of course! I loved my boyfriend I dated in between my ex fiancee and when he became my husband - we were together on and off for 7 years.  He wanted to marry me.  There were times I was totally sure and just as many times my doubts rocked me to the core.  5 months after we broke up for the last time I had a lightbulb moment prompted by a comment made by a mutual friend of ours - that told me why we weren't right together (and yes I loved him!).  The comment was actually not that earth shattering or negative -it just triggered that moment as did having that time away from him.  So he may not know why he has doubts but for sure you bringing it up and settling for a promise ring will only make him more panicky/scared because he sees you pressuring him and also sees you willing to settle for less.  Both of those situations are scary and doubt-provoking too.

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Throoawao, I totally understand the delicate situation and that nagging and demanding is counterproductive. I would urge you to read the book I recommended in my first post.

A colleague of mine was engaged to her fiancé for 6 years before getting married, exactly because she has been busy with completing her university studies, and similar for him. But the ring on her finger did give her security and comfort, knowing that he was committed to her. I think, given that you have been together for 3 years already, you do have the right to take comfort in knowing that your boyfriend is committed to you. Men have a difficulty to understand this concept, because they see the engagement and the ring as unnecessary expense, and cannot grasp the symbolic promise and "togetherness" that it means for women.

I would suggest that you take your distance, read John Grey's book, it is full of practical wisdom, and evaluate how much patience you are comfortable with. It seems that your boyfriend does not even what to plan, or just discuss engagement, let alone do something about it. It looks to me that he is feeding you excuses. So, take sometime to think, evaluate, consider perhaps the idea that there are other men out there, more established in their lives.

The fact that your boyfriend is your first man does not mean you are tied down to him. I do not know if it is a cultural  thing, if you care to share where you come from.

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11 hours ago, throoawao said:

i told him he should pop the question sometime soon given that i gave myself to him and he knew my values.

Nope. Doesn't work that way. You can't rely on other people to uphold your values. You have to do that yourself. 

24 minutes ago, throoawao said:

if i knew with no doubt that he never wants to or plans on marrying me, i wouldn’t stay a second longer with him. 

Since he is not being clear with you about what he wants, I think East4's idea might be a good option:

9 hours ago, East4 said:

So, if your boyfriend wants all perks of marriage-regular sex, you taking care of his needs (cooking, running errands for him, etc.), but is not giving you the commitment that corresponds to the advantages he gets. Then what you need to do is to scale back your relationship to the previous, less committed stage-exclusivity. You must do it without nagging and pouting, because it will look like you are twisting his arm.  Keep your smile and be nice, but also be less available, go out more with friends and family, focus on your own interests.

 

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Throoawao, from the little things that slip in your posts "he will have to take care of his parents", too much emphasis on virginity, I'm under the impression that you are coming from an Asian culture-Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Philippine may be? Keep in mind that people here comment from more Western point of view, the advice may not be directly applicable to the social rules you live by.

And also your boyfriend sticking by you for three years, it may mean many things. Being madly in love with you is one possibility, or the difficulty to find sex without marriage in a conservative culture, is yet another possibility... so, of course he will stick around for the goodies.

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There is absolutely no way to "secure a future" with this man, and bringing up the subject on a regular basis will do nothing other than pressure him and push him further away.

You'll have to decide on your own whether it's worth staying with this guy with no promise of marriage and children.

He's made it clear from day one where he's at and it's unfair of you to try to pressure him to do it the way YOU want.

So what you've got 3 years invested, that's not a very long when you think of it in the scheme of things. You want promises of marriage, then break it off and go meet other guys until you find one who is on the same page you are.

If you choose to stay with him then stop talking about marriage. He knows what you want. When and if he's ready, he'll let you know.

 

 

 

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57 minutes ago, throoawao said:

just i wanted him to make that promise that it would be before 30 WHICH IS TOTALLY REASONABLE. and he was just scared to do that he was thinking of worst case scenarios of what could happen and he could potentially ruin my life.

idk man... idk if this is his way to trying to get me to leave him or what. whenever i bring up leaving he gets sad and we reminisce old memories and jsut cry together.

YOU are pressuring him too much.. and to THREATEN him with leaving? That is nasty :(.

If you do this, then just leave ( if you say you will)- otherwise, don't say this.  

* Him ruin YOUR life?  What about his?

YOU now have him full of fear and that is no good for your relationship- all of this behaviour, pressures & threats is just causing damage to your relationship.

Long-term effects

Studies show that severe emotional abuse can be as powerful as physical abuse. Over time, both can contribute to low self-esteem and depression. You may also develop: anxiety.

So, I suggest, YOU either be fine with your position in your life/relationship, or leave.  Don't be like this with him, though.

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58 minutes ago, East4 said:

Throoawao, from the little things that slip in your posts "he will have to take care of his parents", too much emphasis on virginity, I'm under the impression that you are coming from an Asian culture-Indian, Pakistani, Chinese, Philippine may be? Keep in mind that people here comment from more Western point of view, the advice may not be directly applicable to the social rules you live by.

And also your boyfriend sticking by you for three years, it may mean many things. Being madly in love with you is one possibility, or the difficulty to find sex without marriage in a conservative culture, is yet another possibility... so, of course he will stick around for the goodies.

Hi, yes, so I am from an asian culture that does have a lot of emphasis on being young and having children young. Basically after 25, as a woman, you are pretty much expired. i swayed away from this culture and don't agree with it at all. But i did give in to the basic before 30 mindset. my social rules do not really exist to be followed, i don't care much about following them, but at this point, this is for me, I want to have my first baby before 30. 

As for him taking care of his parents, he's also from a slightly asian culture, but they have westernized much more than my family and I have. I believe taking care of parents is primarily a personal desire given that his parents one day will be older and need to be taken care of financially.

I agree, many commenters don't understand this position of mine, which I don't blame them. I personally swayed from it a while back.


In terms of him sticking around, we have had a lot of ups and downs in the relationship, and actually we were perfectly fine with not having sex-- just its not so desirable to be in your early 20s with a committed relationship where you love one another and not have sex. 

I believe he truly does love and want to be with me, he just doesn't see marriage in his foreseeable future. I'm fine with that, I just don't want this to be an ongoing issue till we are in our 30s are not even married, and keep in mind this would be 10+ years dating, without an "end result".

Thanks for your comment.

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1 hour ago, Batya33 said:

I used to cry and get sad and be terrified of ending my not quite right relationships with men who wanted to marry me yesterday -or right away.  Of course! I loved my boyfriend I dated in between my ex fiancee and when he became my husband - we were together on and off for 7 years.  He wanted to marry me.  There were times I was totally sure and just as many times my doubts rocked me to the core.  5 months after we broke up for the last time I had a lightbulb moment prompted by a comment made by a mutual friend of ours - that told me why we weren't right together (and yes I loved him!).  The comment was actually not that earth shattering or negative -it just triggered that moment as did having that time away from him.  So he may not know why he has doubts but for sure you bringing it up and settling for a promise ring will only make him more panicky/scared because he sees you pressuring him and also sees you willing to settle for less.  Both of those situations are scary and doubt-provoking too.

You're right... he doesn't want to get married. He is not actively working towards it. But who can blame him? I certainly can't-- I'm also in no position to get married right now.

I just want there to be an eventual result of this relationship, and be sure that it will happen in a reasonable time.

 

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1 hour ago, gamon said:

There is absolutely no way to "secure a future" with this man, and bringing up the subject on a regular basis will do nothing other than pressure him and push him further away.

You'll have to decide on your own whether it's worth staying with this guy with no promise of marriage and children.

He's made it clear from day one where he's at and it's unfair of you to try to pressure him to do it the way YOU want.

So what you've got 3 years invested, that's not a very long when you think of it in the scheme of things. You want promises of marriage, then break it off and go meet other guys until you find one who is on the same page you are.

If you choose to stay with him then stop talking about marriage. He knows what you want. When and if he's ready, he'll let you know.

 

 

 

So here's the thing... there is a promise of marriage and children, as we are both "homebodies" -- well, we are family oriented people. we come from a culture that is big on family making. So there is no concern that he DOESN'T want children or marriage. 
I just don't know and neither does he about WHEN this will happen. And you're absolutely right, life is insecure in itself, but I suppose there should be a shared desire about when two people want to begin having a family. 

i don't know if he's thinking too immaturely about this, or im thinking too much into this and getting anxiety from it and pestering him about it.

and i don't know how to approach this problem

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47 minutes ago, SooSad33 said:

YOU are pressuring him too much.. and to THREATEN him with leaving? That is nasty :(.

If you do this, then just leave ( if you say you will)- otherwise, don't say this.  

* Him ruin YOUR life?  What about his?

YOU now have him full of fear and that is no good for your relationship- all of this behaviour, pressures & threats is just causing damage to your relationship.

Long-term effects

Studies show that severe emotional abuse can be as powerful as physical abuse. Over time, both can contribute to low self-esteem and depression. You may also develop: anxiety.

So, I suggest, YOU either be fine with your position in your life/relationship, or leave.  Don't be like this with him, though.

you're right 😞 i did instill a lot of fear and pressure in the relationship regarding this topic.

I truly believe it comes from the way I was raised and my insecurity in myself in the relationship.

If i look from it from the side -- if we have been together for 3 years and will continue to be, why wouldn't we get married? 

It seems like a relationship OCD at this point bc i just don't feel secure in the relationship. 

I'm fine with the position I'm in right NOW, given that i'm not ready myself-- but in a way i am trying to protect my future .. yes i know that sounds awful, but I am entirely justified for doing so given that we have been together for 3 years, and if we continue to be together.

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3 minutes ago, throoawao said:

So here's the thing... there is a promise of marriage and children, as we are both "homebodies" -- well, we are family oriented people. we come from a culture that is big on family making. So there is no concern that he DOESN'T want children or marriage.

That's not a promise. People don't always follow their culture.

Nowadays there's a shift towards people marrying later if at all.

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51 minutes ago, SooSad33 said:

YOU are pressuring him too much.. and to THREATEN him with leaving? That is nasty :(.

If you do this, then just leave ( if you say you will)- otherwise, don't say this.  

* Him ruin YOUR life?  What about his?

YOU now have him full of fear and that is no good for your relationship- all of this behaviour, pressures & threats is just causing damage to your relationship.

Long-term effects

Studies show that severe emotional abuse can be as powerful as physical abuse. Over time, both can contribute to low self-esteem and depression. You may also develop: anxiety.

So, I suggest, YOU either be fine with your position in your life/relationship, or leave.  Don't be like this with him, though.

 you're right 😞 i did instill a lot of fear and pressure in the relationship regarding this topic.

I truly believe it comes from the way I was raised and my insecurity in myself in the relationship.

If i look from it from the side -- if we have been together for 3 years and will continue to be, why wouldn't we get married? 

It seems like a relationship OCD at this point bc i just don't feel secure in the relationship. 

I'm fine with the position I'm in right NOW, given that i'm not ready myself-- but in a way i am trying to protect my future .. yes i know that sounds awful, but I am entirely justified for doing so given that we have been together for 3 years, and if we continue to be together.

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3 minutes ago, throoawao said:

you're right 😞 i did instill a lot of fear and pressure in the relationship regarding this topic.

I truly believe it comes from the way I was raised and my insecurity in myself in the relationship.

If i look from it from the side -- if we have been together for 3 years and will continue to be, why wouldn't we get married? 

It seems like a relationship OCD at this point bc i just don't feel secure in the relationship. 

Okay, then this is a problem. ( to instill fear & pressure).

- Your insecurity ( if you don't feel secure, that's a problem)

No one knows.. what the future brings... BUT I feel, if you continue on this path, things will not end well.

HE may end up giving up or heavily damaged from this experience with you.

You NEED to see that he IS with you.. he is trying.. he is honest & caring. And things take time..

IF you feel this will not progress, then maybe it is time to move on.. Or, you work on accepting you will not be married anytime soon and keep on as you are.

 

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The subject of marriage is one of the most culturally-colored topics, so it is hard to discuss "in general". 

I personally do not see anything awful in trying to "protect your future", like you say. Quite to the contrary, I see this as very commendable.

Perhaps it could help if I shared experience from my country of origin, because some 30 years we went through a mini cultural revolution. I am originally from the south-east of Europe, the gate between Europe and the Middle East, living for the last 15 years permanently in the North-West of Europe, so in completely opposite end of the continent and the cultural spectrum. Even my home has two living areas-one is decorated in the Eastern style in homage to my roots, and the other part is in modern western style.  

So, some 30 years ago the wind of change turned many things upside-down in my country, including romance traditions. Many young girls felt confident enough to step out of the stereotype of marrying to their first boyfriend, with the blessing of the parents, by 25 , etc, I guess similar to what it is in your country. The young men were actively encouraging the liberation of young women, and praised the independent behavior. But you know what happened in many, many cases? A young man would have a girlfriend, even living together without being married, or having several relationships with modernized young women. But when it came to marriage, these same young men that encouraged women's liberation, actually went to chose the old fashioned, conservative girls, the same like their mothers. This is just to tell you that human nature and cultural programming changes very slowly, no matter how modern and progressive a person may look like, or what they may say.  

So, I see a similar conflict in you, wanting to be liberal and to not care if your boyfriend wants to marry you, but on the other hand your more traditional upbringing does make you worry about age of marriage, commitment and "protecting your future". Own up to what you actually want, if it is on the conservative side-so be it, no shame in being conservative. But you have to find internally what you really feel comfortable with and act from that place of poise and balance. If you think that you have already given your boyfriend enough free fun, then OK be comfortable with the thought that the free fun should be over. And start withholding sex, and be less available to him. I have the impression that he takes you for granted at least to some extent, because he is also a product of your society and most probably thinks that he has some special privileges for being your first man and you will never dare look for somebody else. Just do not try to be more modern than what you are comfortable with. 

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39 minutes ago, SooSad33 said:

Okay, then this is a problem. ( to instill fear & pressure).

- Your insecurity ( if you don't feel secure, that's a problem)

No one knows.. what the future brings... BUT I feel, if you continue on this path, things will not end well.

HE may end up giving up or heavily damaged from this experience with you.

You NEED to see that he IS with you.. he is trying.. he is honest & caring. And things take time..

IF you feel this will not progress, then maybe it is time to move on.. Or, you work on accepting you will not be married anytime soon and keep on as you are.

 

How do i know with certainty that this will not progress tho ? 😕 I want to know i have tried everything in my power before and if I leave this relationship. 

 

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4 minutes ago, throoawao said:

How do i know with certainty that this will not progress tho ? 😕 I want to know i have tried everything in my power before and if I leave this relationship. 

Is there any real reason for leaving this relationship?

Are YOUR expectations too high?  You have come this far with this guy.

Is HE worth trying for?  * If YOU are truly 'in love', this should not be a problem,...

Okay, I get it.. it's been 3 years?  You are now early 20's....

If you leave this relationship, by choice, you need time to work on getting over this experience - so some time to accept & heal.. then who knows if or when you will meet someone else. ( so, you start fresh again,...)

This guy waited on sex, right?  Sooo many won't.  That's reality.

So- is all on YOU then.  Are YOU willing to back off and just let things progress some more with him?

As I said.. Do you 'love' him for real? Are things as strong between you two like in the first year or so?

I feel, what YOU have to do, is look at the 'Fantasy vs Reality' here. ( what you want and what you're getting).

How do you know if it will progress or not - You don't.  But do you believe?  Willing to keep going with him?

 

 

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2 hours ago, throoawao said:

just i wanted him to make that promise that it would be before 30 WHICH IS TOTALLY REASONABLE. and he was just scared to do that he was thinking of worst case scenarios of what

No, that isn't reasonable. 

You're forcing the issue way too much, and making him promise something doesn't guarantee anything anyway. What are you going to do if he makes this promise, then dumps you a year or two from now anyway? It's not like he has to sign a legally-binding contract that includes a penalty clause if he breaks his promise. 

A promise does nothing but temporarily soothe your anxiety, and make him resent you for being so dang pushy. It isn't fair and it's extraordinarily unattractive to try to force your partner's hand. Likewise for promise rings. Let teenagers keep those. They're silly and childish in an adult relationship. 

You don't have to wait for him if you don't want, to be clear. But understand that waiting until you're 30 for marriage and kids with him won't magically make it happen either. How will you feel if you get closer to 30 and he is still hesitant? You can either accept what he's telling you - no promises right now - or you can consider if your lack of 100% security is a deal-breaker for you or not. 

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I'm sorry, your story is typical and old as time.  You should actually appreciate his honesty regarding telling you that he is ill prepared financially due to where he's at with his career, not being settled, not knowing what his timeline is or how his life will play out.  You have to accept his situation and decision.  Marriage is a huge undertaking and responsibility.  He is ill prepared.  He can't financially support a wife, family, food on the table, mortgage and all the tremendous monthly bills it takes to survive.

I don't know if he's playing you.  I don't know if he has the "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" mentality.  I don't know if he's commitment phobic.  Only you know.  Only you can question if you choose not to be naive again in the future.  Only you can figure out what type of man you want in the future.  Only you will observe what type of moral character qualities you value in a man in your future.  Only you will decide how to become more selective, picky and choosy from now on.  That's all up to you.  Live and learn.  It was not all in vain.  You will have key takeaway pearls of wisdom from your negative experiences with him.  You will become a better judge of character from this day forward.  Think long and hard.  Never settle for mediocrity otherwise you'll live to regret it for many years and waste your youth on a man who will make you absolutely miserable and depressed.  Navigate your life wisely.

Actually, be grateful that he is averting disaster.  There are too many scenarios where couples do everything backwards.  They think love conquers all and then they find out that they can't make ends meet every month, they become heavily in debt, have children, loveless parents who argue all the time and layers of chaos ensues.  Then comes a messy divorce, split visitation rights, co-parenting, child support fights, constantly interacting with an ex-spouse, constant shortage of money and a broken family.  Or, he can leave you in the lurch and completely skip town not ever caring to see the children nor give you a penny of child support.  That's what my late father did.  Who will pay the rent?  Food?  Insurance? Utilities? Clothing?  Tommy's orthodontic braces?  Do you wish to become a struggling single parent and work like a dog to support your children?  That was my mother.  Do you prefer that your boyfriend says "NO" to commitment now or live with a world of regrets when your life grows too complicated and filled with bitterness and resentment later?  Pick your poison and choose the lesser of two evils. 

You have choices.  You can either remain with him and realize you have no future with him or leave him and move on for real.  You can move on.  You have strength.  You just have to do it.  Be brave and courageous.  Look out for yourself.  If you want children before age 30, then be with a man who is financially stable, shares your same hopes and dreams and wants a family.  Always be evenly yoked with a man.  Any other way is not feasible nor realistic.  You're both just wasting each others time.  It's a hopeless situation. 

You can't secure a future with him because he's not willing to give you what you want.  He's not ready and there's no telling when he'll ever be ready.  He might be ready years from now but I doubt you'd be willing to wait around for uncertainty.  I know I wouldn't waste my time, energy and resources on a man who doesn't have economic stability.  Why bother? 

There's nothing left to talk to him about.  Both of you are not on the same page.  He refuses to give you the legal commitment you are desiring.  That deal is off the table.  He refuses to budge, will not change for you nor change his mind.  He's firm.  Either accept him as he is and remain as just "the girlfriend" or dissolve and exit the relationship.  Those are your two choices.  It's a harsh reality check. 

Btw, when I married my husband, we were economically prepared.  We both are gainfully employed and can afford a house in the suburbs, the white picket fence and two fine sons.  We have financial stability, compatible personalities and characters.  We have a harmonious, respectful, peaceful household and family life.  Our Christian faith is important to us.  Pre-pandemic, our local church life was important, too.  I wouldn't have married my husband had I not done my homework first.  I wasn't about to repeat my mother's mistake.  She didn't marry well.  Her marriage was made in hell which included no money, insurmountable debts, 3 children, domestic violence, turmoil, strife, struggle, hardship, misery and living in a constant state of shambles.

When it comes to choosing your man, become astute and shrewd because it will pay off later.  All the good ones are taken for a reason.  You'd better shop around. 

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1 hour ago, throoawao said:

 I want to know i have tried everything in my power before and if I leave this relationship. 

 

OP,  be aware that should you leave this relationship it would mean having to find someone new.  Who knows how long that will take.  Then when you do eventually find someone new, maybe it will only last 6 months for whatever reason.   By that time perhaps 2-3 years have gone by.  Then you have to start the whole process all over again. etc etc.  You also need to get to know a person really well before becoming an established couple - again, maybe another 2 years, then get engaged, then married etc.   By this time 6+ years have gone by. You get the picture.

My point being, nothing is guaranteed.  Leaving him will not mean that you magically find another guy really quickly and marry him and have children with him.  It can take years.

I don't think your boyfriend is playing you.  I think he has his head on straight and is making wise choices at this point in time.  Marriage is huge and if both of you can't even afford a mortgage and all that goes with what marriage involves, how do you expect to live?  And even more, babies cost a fortune!! They may be little but o.m.g.  you have no idea how much money it involves.  You BOTH NEED to be financially in a better place before either marriage/children happen.  If you want it this bad then you'll have to start looking for a job to help make it happen. 

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At your age 23 or 24, some men are ready for marriage with education and jobs already established. 

My husband and I dated 3 months and already discussing marriage.  We were engaged the following year and married less than a year later.  Fortunately, we both lived at home and could save money, get some minor, small debts paid off and start fresh.  (My husband lived on his own for a while but temporarily moved back home to save money for our future.)  Both my parents and in-laws have been extremely generous for many, many years. 

I was only 22 years old and my husband was 23 years old when we married.  We could afford apartment rent, food, car payment and basic survival bills.  Granted, not everyone is in our financial situation but we did it and we could make it on our own.  The key was, I found the right man and I too was gainfully employed.  We worked very hard, moved up to renting a condo with slightly higher rent, didn't have children right away, saved for a down payment on our first house and have since moved up several times thereafter into bigger homes in coveted, affluent neighborhoods.  Everything was step by step with organized, orderly plans for our future. 

I was quick to spot a winner when I did.  I wanted him because everything was economically set.  If I didn't get him, some other lucky lady would've snatched him up first and my husband would've been already spoken for.  Strike while the iron's hot.  I wanted to get married and eventually have a family.  I WAS YOU BACK IN THE DAY.  However, I knew that it took financial stability to have a happily ever after.  Success and prosperity are methodical.  It was a package deal.  He is a very moral man. 

Choose the right man in the first place because it will pay off in the long run.  Don't waste your time, energy and resources on a man who is not at a financially comfortable stage in his life yet. 

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I could not agree more with Cherlyn in particular what she suggests that you should do.  Also if you wait around for nothing you risk getting jaded and cynical.  Which will make it harder for you to be the right person to find the right person.  I think in general people are getting married a bit later.  I know three women who married at ages 17-27.  The one who was 17 -she's been married about 7 years, happily, two kids, husband is 2 years older.  One is divorced and the other is married with two kids and they are now in their early 30s. 

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Or, if you know a man has a lot of income earning potential in the near future, then prospects look bright and promising.  Even though my husband and I had good jobs when we were ages 22 and 23, we both worked full time while he attended grad school carrying a full load.  It wasn't easy yet we did it.  I helped pay the rent, utilities, food and basic survival expenses every month.  His success was my success because we supported each other when life was very hectic.  We didn't begin raising a family until we established and settled into our suburban life. 

Emulate the birds.  Birds always build their nest first and then have their babies unlike humans who do things backwards; have children first without the nest egg. 

I wouldn't have had any qualms marrying later though IF it's the right man.  When choosing a man, it all boils down to economics, good health and moral character IMHO (in my humble opinion).  Think of your future, your lifestyle and if you prefer an easy, very comfortable, financially, economically secure life vs. endless strife, turbulence, turmoil, hardship and struggle.  Living hand-to-mouth isn't fun. 🙁 I've since lived and breathed that wretched tumultuous life during my childhood.  Been there done that and never again!  That's my mantra!    

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Both of you should be financially secure.  Not just him.

You don't work, you don't seem to have any savings...how are you supposed to afford a household?

Who is paying for your grad school?  Can he afford to pay all the household expenses plus your school expenses all by himself?

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He seems really unsure about marriage after three years and he's saying he can't give you an answer as to if and when you'll get married. He doesn't seem sure and is being really vague. I'm sorry to say but in a relationship values are extremely important and your values seem different. You have very strong marriage and family values and it doesn't seem like he does.

He's using the financial situation as an excuse but you don't really need a lot of money at least to get engaged. He could buy a cheaper ring and just have an engagement party in a park or at home or something. I know you and your boyfriend are young but he knows marriage is very important to you and you really want to get engaged. If he's not wanting to propose then that's probably either because he doesn't care about marriage that much or he's actually not sure he wants to marry you specifically. Or both. If he felt sure and like you're "the one" then why can't he at least propose?

I know you have a timeline until you're thirty years old but your boyfriend hasn't even said to you that he'll definitely marry you in the future. So waiting for a few years actually could turn out to be a waste of time in the end. Then you'd have to look for a new partner and you would be thirty already. It takes time to find the right person so you may not have kids until your mid 30's. 

I mean you know you want marriage now so why compromise on what you really want? I think you could find a different guy who does want marriage now. Maybe an older guy in his late 20's or 30's.

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