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Woman regrets behavior surrounding her BF's proposal; 'Did I sabotage our relationship?' AITA? UPDATED 3X

Woman regrets behavior surrounding her BF's proposal; 'Did I sabotage our relationship?' AITA? UPDATED 3X

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When this woman has a moral dilemma about her engagement ultimatum, she asks the internet:

"I gave my boyfriend an engagement ultimatum and I think I might be regretting it. AITA?"

My boyfriend and I are both young professionals in our late twenties who moved in together six months ago after graduating from professional school and relocating to a new city for work.

We have been together for four years and have had no issues adjusting to living together. We are happy together, want the same things out of life, and take excellent care of each other.

The issue is that I have known for a while that he is the person that I want to spend my life with, and I would like to settle down and hopefully start a family soon. I have been in a serious relationship (also lasted 4 years) before him, so I know what I am looking for.

On the other hand, my boyfriend is not in the same headspace as me about this for a few reasons: 1) He was a late bloomer when it comes to relationships, and I was his first real girlfriend, and 2) he has a hard time making decisions about everything, from his job to what pair of shoes to buy.

When we discuss the future, I am very clear that I’m ready to settle down with him ASAP. He is also very clear that he loves me, he thinks we have a great thing, but he wants to take more time to “see where it goes.”

He also jokes around about how he hasn’t “banged enough chicks.” We had some serious commitment discussions last year when we were deciding where to live after graduating, and I told him that I wasn’t going to try to relocate to the same city as him unless we were engaged.

He didn’t propose, and I stuck to my guns. Despite very slim odds, we both coincidentally found jobs in the same city halfway across the country, so we moved there together and got an apartment together.

Now I’m starting to get fed up and hurt about this situation. It was causing a lot of stress for me, and it was the main point of contention in our relationship. So I took action. So in September 2017, I told him that when our lease is up in April 2018 I was going to move out unless we were engaged.

He hasn’t made a decision ever in his life without a deadline, so I figured this would help nudge him in the right direction. However, I’m starting to worry that he’s not going to propose (mostly because he's telling me that he's not going to propose).

Now I’m regretting this ultimatum, and I think maybe I was stupid for ruining a good thing by trying to rush things (but it’s been FOUR YEARS). Also I worry that if he does propose, it will be forced and he’ll always regret it.

On the other hand, I gave him basically the same ultimatum last year during our job search, and he made it very clear that he'd rather end up in different cities (which knowing us would likely mean breaking up) than get engaged. I’d like to think that I am being rational and empowered here, but am I being stupid and desperate?

If he doesn’t propose by April, should I stick to my guns and move out, basically sacrificing this great relationship because it wasn’t moving at my pace?

I'm happy to answer any questions too! This situation is getting so stressful, and I appreciate anyone who takes the time to read this and give advice. AITA for giving an ultimatum? I feel stupid now.

Before we give you OP's updates, let's take a look at some top responses:

feggg9 writes:

NTA. OP. I do not agree with giving your boyfriend an ultimatum. Even if he miraculously proposes I just don’t see how you would be happy knowing he only proposed because you practically forced him to.

In fact, kudos to your boyfriend for sticking to his guns. If he’s not ready he’s not ready. Don’t push him to move at a pace convenient for you.

Shit I’m (partially) in your shoes. I’m 28 and would love to be engaged to my SO right now and have kids by 30. But that’s not what he wants. He wants to finish school, achieve certain goals THEN get married and start a family.

Maybe I missed it in your post but have you tried talking to your boyfriend what his ideal timeframe is on marriage?

feliiih writes:

NTA. I don't mean to offend you but imposing an ultimatum to coerce him into a decision like that is a little selfish. Granted you're entitled to what you want and what will make you happy but so is he.

If he's not ready to propose regardless the time frame then he's not ready. Maybe he has doubts and doesn't have the same resolve as you do to commit. 4 years seems like a long time but for a guy who has minimal relationship experience with anything other than this current relationship. What do you expect?

Let me give an example that might help to shed some insight on differing views. You've been in a serious relationship before him so you know what you want. This is his only serious relationship he doesn't know what he wants. Let me elaborate on that detail.

Not only does he not know what he wants. He has never known love for anyone romantically other than for you within this relationship.

He has never experienced any other form of love from anyone else in a romantic relationship other than from you. He's never experienced loss, heartbreak, betrayal, or disappointment from a relationship ever, in his life. He's never had to pick up the pieces afterwards, and move forward independently, on his own, after a relationship ends either.

Those are some of the ways that define us as individuals and how we approach decisions with respect to serious relationships. You've experienced them, he hasn't. Honestly, it doesn't surprise me that your boyfriend can't make the decision, frankly I don't think he knows what he wants.

Giving him an ultimatum, expecting him to make a decision, and dangling your current relationship as a bargaining chip to have it your way, I think is a little counter productive.

Personally, if my relationship with someone was that insubstantial, that they'd be willing to end it after 4 years because I wasn't prepared to get married, I'd be a little bit offended.

fesss0976 writes:

NTA. It's difficult and I sympathise. You haven't mentioned if he actually wants kids? Maybe he doesn't and he knows that your marriage would (in your head) lead to kids (which is fair enough) so that's why he's not proposing?

My advice would be to let him know you want a serious talk ahead of time - so he is prepared for it and can't brush you off. Put aside an entire evening, turn the phone off and have a rough plan of what you will do if it doesn't go well. And then just tell him how you feel.

Apologise for the ultimatum but explain you thought he needed a deadline. Explain what you want in the future and what you are prepared to compromise on (timeline, big wedding) and what you are not prepared to compromise on (having children)

He needs to tell you the same and you can go from there....unfortunately I would probably be mentally preparing myself to split up, as scary as that would be. But at least you will know where you stand once and for all.

Going forwards I would get this kind of thing confirmed in the earlier stages of a relationship. Obviously no-one knows whats going to happen but at least if you know someone is not interested in marriage or kids then you at least have a chance at ending up on the same page. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

pole21 writes:

YTA. You can't force a man to propose. Quit trying to control him and just enjoy being in a relationship. Marriage is not the end all be all of adulthood or relationships. For that matter, marriage is more than just a wedding day, gifts and a party.

Do you want a wedding day or a marriage? Because if all you're after is the white dress and the big party, that's just ONE day. If you are living together, and doing life together, and sleeping together, you are basically already married. You just don't have the little piece of paper. So you need to ask yourself, "Why does getting married matter to me that much?"

Also, he's joking about sleeping with other people. Which means if you do force the issue and try to guilt him into marrying you, he's probably going to cheat on you, and you'll end up getting a divorce.

No one should feel pressured to get married. If you have to pressure him and give him ultimatums, it's not going to be a happy marriage. Clearly, he has told you he won't propose.

So you need to just chill and let him do things in his own timing, or end it. But realize that you will then be alone, and have to start all over with someone new, who still may not propose to you.

Been with my boyfriend for 4 years. I'm not in a hurry to get married. Neither is he. There is no timeline to a relationship, except the one you impose.

And now, OP's 1st update:

Boyfriend knew and acknowledged the ultimatum, and I tried to use this as a springboard to have a serious conversation about where he sees the future going. We did have some sit-down talks that didn't really go anywhere, and he told me to stop bringing it up, so I stopped.

We carried on for a little while being our happy selves, without mentioning the ultimatum. Part of me hoped he had a proposal planned and would surprise me. Nope.

Now, we are 10 days away from the 3/31 deadline (which I 100% plan to stick to), and he just told me that he wants me to visit his parents in their home in September, and after the visit he would then talk with them about our relationship and consider proposing around December.

Part of me is so insulted and angry by this idea. First of all, I have met his parents before and actually spent plenty of quality time with them (so far I like them, they like me).

They live in a more isolated state that's hard to get to from where I live (plane tickets are pretty expensive, would be a 2 day drive). I have suggested that I visit them multiple times, and we've had plenty of opportunities to do so, but my boyfriend was against it for one reason or another.

The saddest thing is that we both coordinated time off work last week. We knew about the vacation for months and had plenty of time to plan. He told me that he was going to visit his parents, and said that he was thinking about asking me to come with, but kept it vague.

I looked up fights (which were reasonable in price at the time) and tried to plan everything, but when I presented the information to BF he would say "not now" "too busy" and put off planning the trip.

Then, less than three weeks before the vacation started, BF told me I needed to come to his family's home with him on this trip, and if that didn't happen, there was no way he would propose.

By that time, all the flights I had been tracking had gone way up in price because the departure date was so close.

It would have been financially very tight for me to pay for that flight, and honestly I think what he did was crappy, because he told me at the last minute what I HAD to do instead of planning in advance like I had tried to do. So I thought it over and decided not to go with him.

Now he is saying the reason he can't propose is because I haven't met his family in their home. Like I said, met his family a handful of time in the past, his family and my family have met each other, etc.

He says that this needs to happen for his family to be okay with us getting married. If he had told me anytime before the vacation was close and flight prices shot up, it would be fine. We had multiple vacations since I issued the ultimatum and we could have gone to visit his parents then.

I feel like this whole thing was him setting me up for failure so that he could not propose and then blame it on me. Not sure if it's relevant, but he is Asian-American and I am white, he was born in the US.

I asked him if the need for me to visit his parent's home before he proposes is an aspect of his culture, and he said "maybe." I don't want to be culturally insensitive at all, so if anyone has knowledge about this, please share.

Now that we're 10 days out and he's realizing I'm serious, he spends all our time together begging me not to go through with it. But he's not planning to propose. He says it doesn't make sense because he's telling me that he would propose in December, but he was willing to take the risk of losing me rather than propose by April.

I see where he's coming from in a way, if we do both want to get married, but I can't do this anymore. Also I think he's an adult and find it insulting that he is blaming this whole thing on his parents not meeting me in their home.

They are asking him constantly what his plan is with me (they don't know about the ultimatum), and so I get the impression that they are just as curious about the future of our relationship as I am. I don't think they sat him down and told him I need to visit them before he can propose, but that's just a hunch.

Update 2:

Since the very beginning he says he wants marriage and 2-3 kids. In the past 1-2 years, sometimes he says he wants those things with me. But a lot of times recently he's been saying "I can't marry you!" when I do little things he doesn't like (e.g. when I farted near him). Sometimes I confront him when he says it and he claims he's joking.

But yeah, we actually do want the same things, or so he claims. But he has a mental block toward taking actions toward making it a reality. Plus, the changing timelines and all the hoops he asks me to jump through are showing me that he's stalling for some reason.

I've asked why he's stalling, but all he can give me are the excuses of family, money, he wants to see my student loans, etc. I wonder if these are the real issues, or whether he has some other reason that he doesn't want to tell me.

Update 3:

I couldn't go through with the ultimatum. I was planning to move out, actually found a new apartment, and wrote the check for the deposit. But when push came to shove, I couldn't picture my life without my boyfriend.

I decided that I loved him too much to leave him over the arbitrary deadline that I had created. I also believed that he meant what he said about getting engaged in December. I felt I was being silly for leaving him after 4.5 years because I wouldn't wait another few months.

As a compromise, he said we could get a cat (I had been wanting one but he'd been saying no), and he said he'd go to at least one family event with me this year. On 3/31, the day I was planning to move out, we got a cat together.

April-September 2018: My boyfriend and I spent time enjoying each other without really mentioning the ultimatum. We both needed to recover from the damage it did to our relationship. I got a therapist and started working on myself. I picked up a new hobby (running), developed new friendships, and spent a lot of time working on my career and hanging out with my amazing new cat.

I think focusing on myself/my career/my friendships took some of the pressure off of him. Also, multiple family events came and went, and my boyfriend had an excuse not to attend each one. I'm not sure it was that big of a deal anyway. By the end of the summer, we were doing great and it was like the ultimatum never happened. He also complaints about our cat constantly.

September 2018- visiting his family: As I promised him, I went to visit his parents in their home in September. As I mentioned in the previous post, he is Chinese-American (and I'm white), so I studied up on my basic Chinese and was able to speak/understand a little when we were all together.

It was a great trip, and I genuinely enjoyed his parents and had a lot of fun in his hometown. I left a few days before he did so that he'd have time to spend with them alone (and speak with them about his plans for us in the future).

I asked him a few times how that conversation went, and he said that they are happy with us having a future together, but that getting engaged in December would be "too fast."

That seemed absolutely crazy to me, and again it seemed like he was projecting his own views onto his parents. He also told me I needed to learn Chinese before we got married (his parents speak perfect English but prefer Chinese when they are with family), so I started doing Rosetta Stone.

October-December 2018: Around November, I started getting antsy that my boyfriend was going to change his mind again. He was starting to show his pattern of making excuses.

For instance, one day he casually mentioned that he couldn't propose by December because he needed to save money (we share finances and money is not an issue for either of us).

Another time, he freaked out that I have student loans (most people in my profession do, and I have a very secure job, good pay, and automatic loan payments), and demanded that he see a spreadsheet of my finances before he could consider having a future together. Luckily I already have this spreadsheet, which I showed him, and he calmed down.

In the meantime, my friends and family were starting to ask questions about the future wedding. Although they had the best intentions, it was stressing me out because I was worried that after all this, there would be no wedding.

I worked with my therapist on letting go of this stress, redirecting my family away from relationship questions. I also created a "no nagging" rule in my mind-- I stopped dropping hints, mentioning wedding/engagement, etc with my boyfriend (didn't do it much anyway, as I had learned my lesson from the ultimatum).

We spent Christmas together for the first time this year, and I really thought he would propose then. But he didn't, and I didn't bring it up or pout about it. He visited his family for New Years and I was left in our city working, so it definitely didn't happen then.

January 2019: I accepted that he actually didn't follow through with what he said he would do, despite me holding up my end of the deal. I was the perfect girlfriend that he asked me to be, and I tried to use this an an opportunity for growth (both individually and within the relationship), and still nothing changed.

I was still on the momentum of not nagging him and trying to suppress all of my thoughts of wanting to marry him. It's now to the point that I equate my own thoughts of marrying him with shame and self-loathing, like they are bad thoughts that I shouldn't have.

I realize I've been feeling so embarrassed with my own desires for my future, which is so sad. But a few things have happened in the past few weeks that have made me realize that this is all bullshit.

First, one of my superiors at work offered me some great opportunities at my job if I stay onboard long term. However, my boyfriend wants to think about moving us out of the city we live in because "we don't like it here" (I am actually okay with it for the most part).

He also has given a hard NO to ever moving back to my home state (his reason: my family lives there and they annoy him). I started thinking 'wow, this person is putting a lot of limits on my life for someone who still can't commit to me for the long term.'

Then, this weekend I went back to my home state for my best friend's baby shower. Also, I want to have kids, that's the main reason I am in any hurry to get married (biological clock is ticking).

So yesterday, I was hanging out with my friend and her husband, helping them set up their nursery, and I had this "Aha!" moment where I realized that it's okay for me to want to get married and have kids.

There's no shame in having my own wants. And at this point, not only have my wants/desires been shut down by my boyfriend.

(No marriage, we can't stay in the city where I have job opportunities, we also can't live in my home state where my entire family is), but I've internalized this sense of shame about expressing or feeling anything that conflicts with HIS desires.

So I'm starting to form a plan to move on, because this dude is taking more from my life that he's adding to it.

I'm hoping to get anyone's opinion/advice/support about where to go from here. Also I am willing to hear all the "I told you so'" from everyone who said I needed to leave this guy in March when I said I would. I totally deserve it.

What do YOU make of OP's story? Any advice for her?

Sources: Reddit
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