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You Asked: Our Engagement Has Been Postponed

Dear Sugar,

I am 23 years old and have been dating my boyfriend for five years. In the beginning of our relationship, he and I discussed marriage and where we saw our futures going individually and together. At our parents' encouragement and of our own desires, we decided to pursue our college educations before getting married. He and I agreed that at the earliest, we would get engaged around the five-year mark. I made hints that I thought it would be romantic if it was sometime around our anniversary, May 23.

Since then, we've had our fair share of problems, which have caused him to want to hold off on marriage. I completely understand his worries; however, I can't help but feel let down knowing that something I had expected to happen isn't going to come to fruition. We usually discuss our feelings openly, but I don't think something like this should be shared because I don't want him to feel like I'm forcing him to do anything he's not ready for. My feeling of disappointment over this approaching date is overwhelming me. Should I try to talk to him about it? What should I do?

— Disappointed Darcy

To see DearSugar's answer

Dear Disappointed Darcy,

If you've imagined your life to be a certain way and things happen differently, it's perfectly normal to feel disappointed. However, I think you should try to avoid feeling like you're in the wrong place in your life or not exactly where you're supposed to be. You can't plan out your life ahead of time; it'll only leave you feeling disappointed in yourself and the world. Things come up, and they always will, so while feeling disappointed is normal, dwelling on that disappointment isn't a good idea.

Your boyfriend has made the right decision by not rushing into something that he's not ready for. And frankly, it sounds like you guys have some work to do on your relationship before you can begin to move forward. Instead of talking to your boyfriend about your disappointment, try discussing some of the issues that have led to the postponement. It's more important to figure out whether or not you can fix these problems than just to assume things will be different once you're married. Try not to think of this coming year as a loss, but rather an opportunity to grow as individuals and as a couple. It's not likely you'll ever wish you had been married sooner, but it's quite possible that you would wish you had waited.


Join The Conversation
kattie_kat kattie_kat 9 years
I'm 23, have been dating my boyfriend since I was 19 and we're still enjoying our "singlehood". Think about it. You're still young! There's still so much more to explore about life and enjoy it. Once you're married, chances are you'll be too busy worrying about everything else like nasty loans and other such concerns to really enjoy each other's company. You also need to settle these nagging issues before going into married life. I hate to say it, but your boyfriend is being the wise and more matured one here.
JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 9 years
I think that if both of you are mature enough to make this decision and stay together than you can be happy in the future. You have plenty of time to get married, it's something that happens when the time is right no matter how long or short you have to wait. He's very mature for making a decision like that after you had problems and marriage is forever so you both need to be 100% sure before you take the leap.
ashley-22 ashley-22 9 years
I am in your exact situation I have been with my guy for a little over 5 years. Our 5 year anniversary came and went so did Valentines Day. I thought we might get engaged around one of those two days but we didn't. I am 23 he is 26 and I am ready to get engaged he is not. My guy says he is happy just the way we are. I want the engagement though even it is for 2 years. I like the idea of being engaged and planning a wedding. We know that one day we will do this but he wants it later then sooner. Sometimes I get sad thinking about it sometimes I am okay. I do not want to put pressure on him but sometimes I feel that he needs to know how I feel. Your anniversary is only a month or so away wait till then and see what happens. If it does not then talk to him, let him know how you feel and that you are disappointed. He may not even know that is how you feel.
Lele777 Lele777 9 years
From experience and I am in my thirties, it's not a good idea to marry young. I married at 24 and what I wanted at 24 and in my thirties are totally different!!! Don't get me wrong, two mature people willing to grow together for better or worse can make it. I remarried this year to my soulmate who I have known since I was nineteen and he was 24. If we had triedd this then, it would have never worked. WE canged sooooooo much from then until now. Please don't get married just to be married, you will never be happy!
cubadog cubadog 9 years
I think your boyfriend is right to put things off until you both are more comfortable in your relationship. Trying to plan every detail to your life never goes right. Pressuring him into something is not ready for is just going to lead to disappointment and resentment. Live your adult lives a little longer, have some fun, and make sure you are 100% committed to this and only than should you get married!
TidalWave TidalWave 9 years
I dated a guy for four years. We, too, were going to get married once we both graduated from college. but honestly, college changed us. he wanted to settle down and wanted to get married right away and have me popping out babies. i wasn't ready for that at all! i wanted to go out with my friends and have time to myself. We came to the conclusion that we both grew out of love with each other and he was way more ready for a commitment than I was. it was hard breaking up after such a long time, but it had to be done. and i could not be happier as a 26 year old unmarried and kidless :)
Look, I am 21 and engaged. But let me tell you something...during a fight I had with my fiance, things got heated, and we both said some things we didn't mean. His zinger was that he didn't mean it when he asked me to marry him -- he thought he was ready but was not. That hurt A LOT, meaning it or not meaning it. He did a lot of redeeming after that. The point is, do you really want to be engaged to someone who may throw that at you and actually MEAN that? I think you may be glamorizing engagement, and even though I was extremely realistic about stuff like that after my parents divorce, there is a part of you that doesn't understand until you do it. My best advice is to move in together before you start making those plans, because that changes absolutely everything -- a title may not, but a different living situation and a different title mean different things. Engagement is your promise to someone that you are going to marry them, so when you say "yes", that is least in my mind. There is so much that you will find out about your SO that may drive you crazy. It may not be a big deal, but think about it...if he did hundreds of things you couldn't stand, I'm sure at one point you'd contemplate seriously leaving. I don't have a choice anymore. I made a promise, I'm keeping it. Granted my SO doesn't do things to the point where I want to leave, but I have certainly rolled my eyes a time or two at his ridiculous habits that just irk the hell out of me. I am rethinking marrying so soon. I think the engagement was good, but I think living together was the best, because then I got to see what it would REALLY be like -- and while it's fun, and there's a lot of love, it's hard and sometimes tedious. Best of luck to you!
Meike Meike 9 years
My best friend was divorced at 23. She married her high school sweetheart of 6 years before marrying him at the age of 21. I remember her telling me the news and all I could think of was, well, it's not going to work because 1) they were both in college, 2) they had no stable work, 3) they were already growing apart in terms of life goals. Nonetheless, they thought the better option would be to marry than to throw away 6 years of history when really they should have evaluated their selves and what they wanted. When she got the divorce, she was incredibly embarrassed and said at the time of her marriage, she just fell in love with the glamor of having a wedding. She "loved the attention" she received from having that diamond ring on her finger so early in her life. I mean after all, she and I were 21 and in college full of young 20-something singles. Most of us, myself included, weren't even thinking about becoming hitched, yet. Also, don't become so dependent and attached on a date and time line. What comes to mind when I read your post is that it is a self fulfilling prophecy. You are already disappointing yourself with grand visions of an expected proposal that may not even happen. You're not even communicating to him how you feel about it and, thus, I would not fault him if he does not propose as soon as you would like. However, if you reallllly feel that it is necessary to have an engagement, communicate with him. I'm not old fashion and I regard my SO as my equal. Why do men always have to be the one that proposes the engagement? Because of tradition? If you ask me, traditionally speaking, men owned women and property, men were the breadwinners, men worked while the women sit at home doing the household chores, etc. When a man told a woman to be quiet, she had to be quiet because it was not her place to have a voice. This is the twenty-first century in our western society. You do have a voice. You're not forcing him to commit by being the first to suggest getting engaged. Does anyone even consider a woman being forced to commit to a man when he gets on one knee and proposes to her? No, because she has the option to say 'no'. It doesn't make her a bitch and it certainly doesn't make a man an ass for also having the right to say 'no'. So, speak up.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
Errr, just because you hinted(which really annoys me) that you wanted to get engaged on a certain date, doesn't mean that he was actually going to do that. You might want to calm down here. Engagements and marriages seldomly fix problems, so worry about your current issues instead of trying to add to them.
jesssa jesssa 9 years
hey i once found myself in a similar situation, my boyfriend and i were dating since we were 16 and 17 and early on we discussed marriage a lot. we even set a date, june 30 2007, which was our 6 year anniversary. well, a lot changed over that time, we broke up and got back together and broke up and got back together a couple times til one day we realised talking marriage was the most childish thing we'd ever done. needless to say june 30 2007 came and went without a wedding and to tell you the truth i couldn't have been happier. we broke up a month and a half later for good. i'm not saying you won't get married, i'm just saying people change and need time to grow and adjust to new challenges and situations - i'm sure graduating college is a big adjustment for the both of you and the reality of hitting the real world is an eye-opener for sure. i say talk to him about how you are feeling, even if it sounds childish and self-centered or pushy. you have to get it off you chest or you will start to resent him. good luck!!
sunshowers83 sunshowers83 9 years
It sounds like you're getting insecure about the relationship, and think having a ring on your finger will make everything better - it won't. Even if you do get engaged, there's still no guarantee that you'll get married. Engagements get broken off all the time... hell, MARRIAGES get broken up all the time! The odds are already against even the tightest couples, don't stack the odds even worse against yourselves by forcing the engagement and the marriage when one of you is not ready. You and your guy have been together since you were very young. You're still very young! Odds are, you're both different people than you were five years ago. Make sure you've grown together rather than apart.
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
well, you said you understand why you're waiting to get engaged, so i think it's more that you've had this event in mind for a long time. maybe plan something else, a weekend away, put together a photo album of your 5 years together, something that still marks the 5 years as important. this way you can still look forward to that special 5 year mark. and it isn't like marriage is off the table, just on the back burner for now. :)
ann418 ann418 9 years
I'm also in a very similar situation. I'm also 23 and also wanting to be engaged (lately I've been wondering if it's just because I want to be married - probably). I know I have time, but I also know that the only thing changing will be the addition of a shiny new ring on my finger. But my boyfriend isn't ready either and I can completely understand your disappointment. Even though you might understand that he's not ready, the thought that maybe it's YOU is there. And that's what hurts. The advice above is perfect, and I hardly ever think that all advice on here is good advice! :) Although you've set your expectations and plans, things change. And if he doesn't ask you to marry him on May 23, yea, you're going to be disappointed. But then think about how much fun it will be when you're not expecting it! Don't worry. Take a deep breath. At least you've found someone that you want to be with forever, so feel lucky. And don't let your disappointment ruin the fun in your relationship now, just enjoy it. Good luck! :)
psychobabble psychobabble 9 years
I have to comment on this one because I found myself in a very similar place. I'm 24 and getting married to my boyfriend of eight years next month. Yes, it seems completely ridiculous, I realize that. It is by no defect of my own that I found the right person very early, I just consider it good luck and a blessing. That being said, we had always talked about getting married as soon as we got out of college. We knew that right after high school wasn't a good idea for us, so we waited. The end of college was really rough and after graduation, we took a break for a few months. I felt just like you described, completely disappointed and let down. But now I know that he needed that time to get his life together and to be 100% sure that he wanted to get married then. Even though it was hard, I would have rather taken a much longer break than have gotten married with him having any doubts. I wish you the best, but you need to know that he needs time to figure out what he wants right now. It is far better to let him do that, however long it takes and whatever the outcome, than to get married with any shred of doubt. Good luck, hang in there and like DearSugar said, use this time to develop as an individual and as a couple. You're not losing this year unless you allow yourself to spend all your time worrying about this.
Marci Marci 9 years
If either party has even the slightest doubt, then a marriage shouldn't take place. Marriage is an enormous, lifetime committment, and you're both very young. I personally think you should experience a lot more of life before taking that step, but that's a personal choice. But if your boyfriend isn't ready, he isn't ready. And all the pushing and worrying and prodding won't change that. If you really love him, give him the time he needs, leave things status quo for now and just continue with your pursuits.
looseseal looseseal 9 years
23 and unmarried? OMG! You're gonna die an old maid. No, I'm kidding. Seriously, you should get a grip. A lot of people haven't even had a serious relationship yet at your age. And if my math is right, you two discussed marriage at age 18? People change a lot between 18-23. Especially those who go to college. The two of you may need to reassess whether you still want the same things in life. So talk, but... Definitely don't do anything that'd pressure him into feeling like he has to propose. Would you really want to be engaged to someone who isn't sure? I wouldn't.
Berlin Berlin 9 years
You've only been dating 5 years! You're 23?! Why get married now? My god, what's wrong with you people here...look at divorce rates SERIOUSLY. Take the time to enjoy your dating period because you will never ever be here again in your life. Why rush to get the date? If you are so centered and getting disappointed b/c he may not want to do it on your preselected "may 23" then you need to think about growing up a little bit before you take this major step anyways. It is very immature of you. That being said, if you have problems right now, then what do you think that getting hitched will make them better? Things should be perfect as much as possible for a long time before you get engaged. And really think of why you are wanting this date and why you want it now. What will it matter if he waits a year or few more? It sounds like you just want to get married for the sake of being married. Are you two financially stable? I don't mean both working and bringing in a pay check...I mean both working, both have very nice retirement funds started, free of debt, have full checking and savings accounts, both have cars, and have a nice fund set away for your marriage, for your house, for insurance and for the kid that eventually be coming between you two? If you don't, then now isn't the time to get married b/c they will only become problems that will drive you apart. You need to do counseling before getting engaged anyways (god if we all were forced to do this, divorce rates would be on the decline!) and really set out your goals. And most importantly BREATHE. You're 23, not 33. Enjoy dating, enjoy a new job, enjoy moving to a new place together, enjoy that time, then get engaged for a few years and enjoy that time. Then get married and enjoy that time. Then have a kid. If you rush each stage not only will it have a toll on your relationship, it will have a toll on your aging! And if you can't talk to your boyfriend b/c you don't want to pressure him and are still so hung up on this date, then you really need to asses the relationship period and your maturity level for marriage. He isn't going anywhere, and neither are you. So effin wait until you are both older and ready for this next step:)
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