Savage Love

Change Agent

Comments

207
So.... this is hilarious.

I literally have not bothered to read anything except for skimming over poor nocute trying to fix the bold.

Greatest ever.

208
You're welcome, mydriasis. Glad to provide the laugh.
209
@198 Mr. Horton,

I disagree about the "marriage is the graveyard of sex" meme. Right after we got married, before kids (or unsuccessfully trying for them) and after we decided life was too short to not schedule time for sex, sex was way better than before we got married. We didn't live together till we married, so having all the free time is readily apparent. BUT in the interim, especially during vacations, we had better and better sex (primarily because my wife was learning more about her body). And lately, knowing what to do, and doing it more often, makes me very happy to be over 50.

So, the whole "waiting till the mood is right" thing, MEH. If being physically close is a priority, then it remains an important part of one's relationship. It is just silly to believe that a hug you have to ask for "works" less well than a spontaneous one (in fact, once you make the effort, the spontaneous part reappears).

Peace
210
@205 nocute,

Go get your drink, sit back, and focus on your reality. Generalizations are fun to debate, but you get to decide your own rules.

I'd like to think that knowing when not to look is a sign of wisdom. But I'm pretty certain letting a whole bunch of interesting people hash out a problem, and taking the best solution, is being wise (besides, I saw those pictures years ago...).

Peace
211
If POPDAQ wants to start a family, and knows that's what she wants, the least her boyfriend could do is give her an answer. It's not like they've just been dating, he needs to be a man about whether or not he is up for starting a family, and if he is, whether or not he wants a family with her.

It has little to do the "stamp of approval" because really that is all that the certificate symbolizes; people agreeing to begin raising their chosen families together.

It sounds like that is what POPDAQ wants to do, and if boy friend is too much of a limpdick to have the courtesy to answer yes or no to her simple request, then he isn't worth shit as a person and doesn't deserve you. Hopefully he will wake up from his stupor and have the decency to choose to, or not to begin raising a family with you.

Ultimatums do suck, and they can easily be taken as manipulations, you should just leave the prick if he seriously doesn't care enough to let you know what the deal is, and if he does suddenly wake up, hopefully you will be a little bit wiser before you decide to just take him back.

The is a big difference between dating a person, and raising your chosen family. It's sort of important who you choose to raise a family with

It's hard to say and it's hard to explain the event when the light bulb turns on, and it's noble of you to try an explain it to him; so that he can understand what's important in life

I think the saddest, most pathetic people in the world are all of Ricardo's married friends who decided their life was so American culturized they could blame their family for their failures.

Sharing your life with others is what makes your life rich, far more rich than you could ever amass in monetary wealth.

If you are not sharing your life with your loved ones, what the fuck are you doing? If partying with your bros is the most important thing to you then you'd be better off just telling her that, because it really is a pathological case of a little boy who never grew into being a man if you are so cowardly you end up like Ricardo's married friends

makes me wonder if very many people actually do understand what love and friendship really is, let alone understand the responsibility of raising a family, and if you aren't going to do it responsibly, then you might as well leave them dead, because they aren't ever going to be wise enough to remember the truth, and you'll be stuck just another pathetic believer in all the lies that men tell you are true, and none of it is true, every truth they think they know is tainted

When you don't know the truth, this world can be harsh and hellish

When you recognize your home, you should run to it
212
Sorry to frustrate you, nocute. Devil's advocate somewhat. I find that Slog can be an echo chamber of enlightened, informed, well-meaning female commenters all agreeing with each other, while the (to me) incredibly obvious, incredibly conventional Average Het Male viewpoint gets no air time, despite being essential to the discussion at hand. So I'll jump in and supply it as a public service. I may overdo it at times. Although you'll notice Ricardo and Tim Horton are not in any way taken aback, if that's any indication.

As far as your concerns @205--yeah. I don't know. I'm overstating things perhaps, but is this really a surprise? I thought Marriage as The End of Fun was a cliché, and like all clichés, while oversimplified, contained a decent portion of truth. It's referenced countless times in books, movies etc and is a pretty strong current in society, yes? Which translates, in real life, into guys having real concerns (legitimate or not) about marriage when shit starts getting real with the gf.

I don't know if that changes what rosysunbeam needs to do--probably not. But it's good to be aware of, and all the cheerleading about marriage being a Wonderful Thing needed a corrective. To be clear, I don't pretend to know anything about rosysunbeam's bf, and my comments on his behalf--generalizations all--may be way off, especially all the assumptions I made @187.

And I appreciate your interest--I got married quite young, and I'm still married (happily).
213
@nocutename: "I think #86 took issue with my comment about cultural conditioning."

I didn't really take issue with it (cultural cond. is certainly real), but questioned whether it really accounts for everything that's at work. No matter how reliable birth control or fertility treatments may be, the fact is women get pregnant and men don't, and men are fertile for almost twice as long as women are. Those things inevitably shape people's behavior, regardless of the cultural context. And, as #206 points out, each person's behavior in a "marriage standoff" can certainly be seen as reflecting their own rational and economic interests.

In many ways, the institution of marriage serves women and children more than it serves men. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but there's a reason many men perceive getting married as a sacrifice. We talk about formalizing and/or sanctifying a romantic partnership, but as any family court judge will tell you it's really an economic arrangement above all -- one whose core purpose is, arguably, to hold a man accountable for the economic needs of his family, and to provide a legal framework for penalizing him if he fails to do so, or pursues extramarital activity that threatens his primary allegiance.

These things are partly to redress the innate power imbalance between the sexes caused by the two issues I mentioned above. Many men would rather cut and run than take care of a family; a pregnant woman doesn't have that choice. Many men would rather have sex with lots of women than just one (and many women are preferentially attracted to married men, for that matter); there seems to be something in women throughout history that strongly disposes them towards normative monogamy, and which I suspect isn't purely a cultural construction (even if it's just that sex = risk for women in a way it doesn't for men).

Moving backwards to older mores may sound appealing, but keep in mind that those were days in which extramarital affairs were considered fairly normal. And if you go back even earlier, in pretty much the entirety of the pre-modern era, it was considered totally normal for married men to visit prostitutes. If most men would prefer some degree of variety in their sexual partners (in my experience that's true), and most women would prefer strict monogamy (in my experience that's also true), there really isn't any compromise to be had -- but I think that's really the worm that gnaws at the heart of heterosexuality: the average man and the average woman really DON'T want the same thing.

And while you can build a relationship out of the overlap between them, I'm not sure that a 28-year-old guy who won the lottery and could do whatever he wanted -- including availing himself of the attentions of beautiful women throughout the world, mercenary though they might be! -- would opt to get married. I've known men who have become incredibly rich early in their 20s, and can have a different woman every night if they wanted to. While eventually they may find it alienating and settle down with the right person, up until then they've described it as like living the dream.
214
Thanks for the enlightenment, LateBloomer. I don't, by the way, think marriage is a "Wonderful Thing," necessarily. And I don't know which Savage Love comment threads you're reading, but the women on here are far from being in universal agreement with each other.
215
@213 (Adz): Just to be clear: I don't think that "Moving backwards to older mores . . . sound[s] appealing." I just meant that given the way this discussion has gone, it can bring out the deeply-buried traditionalist in even the most progressive person.

I hate to think that men and women are as essentially opposed as you paint them to be. It makes me depressed.
216
Ah, men and women. And to think that after millions and millions of years of evolution, this whole cockamamie scheme is the result.
217
"I hate to think that men and women are as essentially opposed as you paint them to be." In my opinion, a more clear-eyed understanding and acceptance of those differences (each of the other's) is the way forward.

As far as Slog women agreeing: sorry, poorly expressed. I meant to say on those occasions when most are in agreement, etc. A bracing exchange of views is pretty standard, as you say.

218
Well, I don't think they have to be opposed, but I think our cultural values guarantee they will be. If monogamy and commitment are effectively a quid pro quo for sex, I question whether anyone can really give those things freely. When it comes to sex, we live in an artificial economy of scarcity that inevitably commodifies it. Hell, much of our real-world economy arguably depends on it, i.e. linking sexual success to economic power or consumer behavior. But does it have to be that way?

Not to get all Shulamith Firestone here, but: whenever I read a bit of utopian sci-fi in which everyone's fucking everybody all the time, children are raised by villages or communes instead of two-parent households (thus freeing women from childrearing duties), and monogamous relationships come out of mutual affinity and a nonpareil enjoyment of each other's company rather than being the price of sexual admission, it's like seeing a gateway into what I wish the world were like.
219
@213

whatever you choose to make your marital bonds is whatever you choose, but it's pretty cowardly to blame society and the male constructs of their bullshit rules on something that is the one subject, topic , or event that anyone in this world, esp in American has THE most freedom to choose and make it anything you and whoever accepts your offer to begin a family with

the only restrictions are that the person is an adult and willingly consents, it's the one part of life that you can be completely discriminating against or for and does not require any reasoning whatsoever except that you want it to be.

If you don't want monogamy to be part of your marriage then you only need to find someone who accepts those terms.

But if you fall for all the societal rules bullshit, that's your problem. Just realize those are all the people who staunchly oppose same sex marriages

it's the people who hate or the people who are pissed off because they weren't allowed to, and that does suck for them, but when you find yourself in such a position and you can't let others live their dream just because you didn't dare to, that's pathetic

just as it is to string someone along because you don't have the courage to tell society and everyone else in the world to fuck off, that's pretty pathetic too

but there's nothing worse than those who recognize the lies we were taught to believe, and instead of acknowledging truth you just find some other bullshit way to deny it.

The only thing that makes it alright is for the girl friend to accept and consent to being treated with disrespect, it sounds like she does not, or at least is coming to realize it.

why don't you learn us something about evolution seandr?
220
IPJ @190--Just for the record, the LW's boyfriend has stated his interest in a future and a home and a family with her. She is the one who says she will not accept that without getting married. Which is odd to me, because what he describes is marriage. The ring is irrelevant. The commitment is what it's all about. As far as legal protection for kids: does 2.5 years together mean common law applies? I don't know.

I get your general point, but I also know several couples who are committed and have been for years, and have no rings. It's not necessary to what the LW wants--a guy worth his salt will stick by her with or without the ceremony. And a guy who isn't and wants to leave won't be deterred by it either. She's holding out so hard for the symbol and the status of what she wants, that she is willing to refuse the thing itself.

You're coming at it from the point of view that a guy who won't get married is reserving his options, which I'd never actually thought about and probably should. That would be shitty. But I'm coming at it from the point of view that such a guy may have all the commitment you'd need, but just doesn't want to be shoe-horned into a role ready-made for him, as if by becoming a husband you're joining those masses of disillusioned, balding, rumpled, sad old men you swore you would never become. Fighting the label is would be one small step toward doing things your own way, not society's way. Keeping a little bit of autonomy.

I'm not arguing for this position, just to be clear. But I definitely understand the feeling behind it. It's like capitulation, and it's not something you can talk yourself into from one day to the next.
221
Rosysunbeam: It is very important to some heterosexual men that they be the ones to propose. (I love Dan's open perspective on gender in theory but find it difficult to carry out in practice.) Since your boyfriend warmed to the idea of marriage for the first time in May and hinted in August that he might propose around the holidays, please don't screw it up for him or for yourself by proposing to him pre-emptively! Wait until March. He could have plans you know nothing about and both of you will feel miserable if you spoil them by being overanxious.

If he hasn't proposed by March, then your solution is very simple: continue in the relationship but begin taking all necessary steps to sever your financial entanglements with one another. No joint accounts, no mingled payments for things, and great clarity about who owns what. When he inquires about this, as he will, tell him matter-of-factly that you have to start preparing for a future separation. Explain that you don't want to break up with him but eventually you're going to have to move out, because you want marriage followed by babies and he clearly isn't ready. Proceed steadily unless he stops you with a proposal; if not, then move out and find someone better suited to your life plans.

Under no circumstances should you purchase a house with this person or attempt to start having babies with him without being married. After 3.5 years he knows the deal, period, and you know he knows it.
222
This bold conversation is riveting
223
In response to several other comments, I find nothing wrong with wanting to make a life-commitment, buy a house, or have children without being married, as long as both parties agree to that situation. However, this woman clearly wants to be married before she does those things. It is entirely reasonable to want that level of commitment from a partner; it's not a merely symbolic gesture. In my limited personal experience, living together is in no way, shape or form a comparable level of commitment to actually proposing and getting married, and the data from several empirical studies of long-term cohabitation backs this up.

The point is, if you're the sort of person who isn't going to be comfortable having kids and a house with someone to whom you never get married, then you need a partner who shares that feeling or you're not going to be happy with your arrangement, and eventually it will be far too late to turn back.
224
@220 (LateBloomer): You're reading a lot into a negative response. We none of us--including rosysunbeam, his would-be fiancé and live-in girlfriend--know what this guy is thinking or what his motivation is. There's no way of knowing, given what we've been told, that rosysunbeam's boyfriend has committed to a future with a home and kids in it. If he knows that she requires marriage for those things, and he's unwilling to commit to marriage until some vague future when he wakes up wanting to apply for the license, then he knows he won't be asked to come through with the kids and the house until after the marriage, which he just doesn't feel yet. It's pretty safe for him to agree in theory that yes, someday he'd like to have a house and children. It doesn't mean he's offering those things. Saying "yes, sure, I want that someday. Just not now" is not the same thing as saying "I want that."

Furthermore, I can't believe that you never considered that his objection to marriage stems from a feeling that he wants to leave his options open, which is without a doubt the most clichéd single male attitude floating around the culture, and preferred instead to assume that the more likely or even obvious cause was that he didn't want to be "shoe horned" into some traditional social role--that he wants to shake up the conventional mores of society. Especially after you made a statement @212 that you were trying to supply the "incredibly obvious, incredibly conventional Average Het Male viewpoint." I think you're being disingenuous.

225
@219: You make some interesting points, but (among other issues) don't forget what a huge role class and money play in this stuff. The rich can afford to live by their own lights, and can use their economic power to get their own way; the poor often can't, and have to settle for things they don't want in order to survive.

@220: The shoe-horning thing is so, so accurate. Male gender performances often involve erasing one's own individuality and feelings in subservience to some kind of role-playing or archetypical/collective identity: the armed services, the corporate world, being "a good provider" and "strong", and that old trope "I always love a man in uniform!" The thought of being a groom can seem like yet another costume to wear.

If a woman has an agenda which seems wholly independent of your relationship -- "I want to get married and start a family, with or without you" -- it can read as a sign that, as much as a woman might claim to care about you, she's equally or more concerned about how neatly or willingly you slot into a role in the fantasy-play she's got worked out for herself.

I'm not sure that "wanting to get married" or "wanting to start a family", in the abstract, deserves any more respect than "wanting to get laid": that is, it's very possible to want to do all three of these things while remaining fundamentally indifferent to the personhood of the man or woman you propose to do them with. I know plenty of women for whom getting married was largely a stepping stone to starting a family and having a domestic life, and for whom the timetable frankly seemed more important than the specific person they were marrying.
226
Why would anyone want to be married to someone who has to be forced to make the commitment? I simply do not grasp this.
227
@225: "I can't believe that you never considered that his objection to marriage stems from a feeling that he wants to leave his options open"

What's the difference between "leaving [one's] options open" and "a nagging sense that a permanent commitment might leave you feeling vaguely disappointed with your life, yet not believing that you could realistically find someone who's a better match"?

In other words: it's not necessarily just "I want to reserve the right to score with some other girl". It also might be "I'm not sure yet where the line is between settling and being realistic." And let's face it, EVERYONE settles to some degree; it's just a question of how hard they have to grit their teeth when doing so.
228
Er, that was @224. Could've sworn the numbering was different a moment ago...
229
@Adz, LateBloomer: It's not that I don't appreciate getting the male perspective. But I don't think that the version you two are painting of the typical female attitude is all that accurate or representative.

I certainly know a lot of women, myself included, who didn't want to "start a family" regardless of the specific relationship they were or weren't involved in. That's just as clichéd as anything else.
230
@229: Oh, I don't know. I wouldn't claim to speak to what a "typical" woman is like, only those I've encountered. And what I can say is that a fair number of otherwise incredibly free-thinking, self-driven, career- and arts-oriented women I've known have abruptly changed right around age 28, and seemed hell-bent on getting married and having kids with the nearest available man who was reasonably adequate, including dumping great guys who weren't quite ready in favor of mediocre guys who were.

Their behavior -- even their own self-description of their behavior, after the fact -- had the same monomaniacal intensity as a teenage boy's priapistic view of the world. Now that I think about it, it's actually pretty similar in some ways!
231
@227: I don't disagree with anything you say in this post. My issue was with LB saying this @220: You're coming at it from the point of view that a guy who won't get married is reserving his options, which I'd never actually thought about and probably should. That would be shitty. But I'm coming at it from the point of view that such a guy may have all the commitment you'd need, but just doesn't want to be shoe-horned into a role ready-made for him, as if by becoming a husband you're joining those masses of disillusioned, balding, rumpled, sad old men you swore you would never become. Fighting the label is would be one small step toward doing things your own way, not society's way. Keeping a little bit of autonomy.

If I understand LateBloomer correctly (and I may not, especially if there's as much disconnect between the sexes as this thread suggests), he thinks that rosysunbeam's boyfriend's reluctance to get engaged stems from his refusal to conform to society's norms, but that he's making exactly the same de facto statement of commitment simply by living with her and saying that someday, sure, he'd like to be marred to her, when, you understand, he wakes up and decides that today is the day he really feels it. I think it is far more likely, given the very insight into the male mind that you have provided in your earlier posts, that he is trying to decide if he should settle for her, and gauging how hard he needs to grit his teeth.

Very different to my way of thinking.

And really? LateBloomer has never thought about the fact that a man who says, "I'm not ready to think about getting engaged," or "I don't want to get engaged/married" isn't trying to hedge his bets, to reserve his options? Yet he presumes to speak for the average unmarried het male? Has he seen no Judd Apatow movies? Has he listened to no hip hop music? Has he not taken even one shred of the cultural temperature?
232
@230: Well, they're both pre-programmed biological imperatives, after all
233
Wow, this discussion seems to have touched everyone's sensitive spots. Mine included.

Btw nocutename, maybe the bold thing depends on the browser? Some of the messages where you were still trying to turn it off didn't display as bold for me.
234
@233: I think it is fascinating. I love the chance to dig in and challenge gender stuff.
235
My boyfriend is a bit of one of these. We met, I fell madly in love pretty quickly, he... didn't. He broke up with me after 6 months. 2 months later he asked me to come back, saying he realised he loved me after all. That was a year ago, and he has been a transformed man this second time around- considerate, attentive, loving. I believe he is much more into me these days. But I have told him I want to get married, and he says that while he sees us being together long term, he is not sure the relationship is stable enough. He did say last night that he feels this year has been a process of getting to know and understand each other better and he thinks we are growing closer and stronger. But I still have the sneaky feeling that while I am happy to accept him with his imperfections and marry him, he still isn't quite as into me as I am into him.

Complicating this is the fact that he was 41 when we met and I was his first serious relationship. He has never told anyone else he loves her, never lived with anyone else, etc. He says that is the main reason he broke up with me- the seriousness terrified him. So I can reasonably imagine that is the culprit and he just needs time to adjust to being in his first ever proper relationship. He was a very lonely man before we met and I know he has some psychological issues. I do see that he is working on them but is it enough to wait?
236
nocutename--re:@220, you're quoting what I meant as a general response to IPJ's explanation of why a woman may want a ring, and why a man is suspect for balking at that. I wasn't specifically talking about the LW in that paragraph. "You're coming at it from the point of view that"="Your general assumptions about motivation seem to be", etc. Sorry about the vague writing.

As far as LW, IPJ was saying that the bf is only making vague noises about commitment, and nothing about kids, but that's not what I got out of this: "We talk about wanting the same things, like a family and a home, but those are things I don't want to do with him unless we are married." To me that seems like he's game for commitment and kids, but is not down with the marriage that she insists on first, for reasons I am enjoying speculating about. But it's a pretty vague statement, I guess you could interpret it any number of ways.

In any case, I disagree with IPJ, and apparently I disagree with you: I believe that a guy's reluctance to marry is based far more often on a desire to not become his dad, or his dad's friends, or whatever--that bland married guy--rather than on some nefarious strategy to hold out for something better (not that I would rule out guys being opportunistic dicks either, of course, I'm just talking about what's more likely, especially if he seems otherwise a decent sort). This is not some socially motivated desire to shake up conventional society. It is an attempt to not become part of it. That seems pretty consistent with Apatow movies, from what I know of them. I base this conclusion on nothing more than my own limited experiences, as well as observation of those around me. So basically you can take it to the bank.

Speaking of authority, I better fess up and admit that I do not actually speak on behalf of the Average Het Male. The whole thing is a sham. I never got the certificate.
237
@220: We're reading that differently, because I take it that he believes he's going to want those things with her in the future, but he isn't there yet. Which when people have been dating 8 months, or even 1.5 years, is a totally reasonable position: I see you as a potential long-term partner, but I need more time together to be sure. A friend of mine described the challenge of introducing his new girlfriend to his grandfather, who asked him just beforehand "So: Is this wifey?" And he was pretty sure it was (and it was!) but he didn't think he should discuss that with granddad before discussing it with the girlfriend, and a couple months in is waaaay early for that conversation.

But when you get on past 2 years, 3 years, 5 years, and the person is still trying to figure out how they feel about you, that's when it's likely the answer is no. And you get those marriages someone (Finch?) mentioned far upthread, statistically more likely to fail despite years of 'trying on', likely because they married from inertia. (Or spun another way, one person moved in because it's the last step before marriage, one person moved in because it's what you do after X time together, and the second eventually went along with getting married.)

You're coming at it from the point of view that a guy who won't get married is reserving his options, which I'd never actually thought about and probably should.
Yes, and women do this too. Usually expressed as something like "He's great on paper, I should be in love with him, why do I keep hesitating?" And they can drag things on for years, unwilling to commit further but unwilling to pull the trigger on ending things with a pretty okay option so he could find someone who would be excited about a future with him.

I believe that a guy's reluctance to marry is based far more often on a desire to not become his dad.
See, I have zero patience with this. I had issues with my parents, my husband had issues with his parents, neither of us wanted to become them, so we didn't. We got married (at 22) confident that we weren't them. Defining yourself so heavily by not being your parents, or not being a grown-up, sends me screaming for the exits because it is so deeply immature. And not just for questions of romance. (And I define the mature option not as "get married" but "don't excuse the way you treat your partner by explaining that you're immature." Related to "don't excuse your crappy behavior to anyone by invoking the way your parents treated you as some lifelong pass.")

I explicitly left out couples who both don't care about marriage as irrelevant to the discussion. What drives me crazy is people who claim "marriage is just no big deal, it makes no difference" and then claim that they will therefore refuse it to their partner, to whom it is a very big deal, because it's not important. If I really want to see a certain movie Saturday night before it leaves theaters, and my partner doesn't care what we do, we go to the movie. If I don't care where we live and could be happy in many venues, and my partner hates the city, we live somewhere other than a city. That's how "it makes no difference to me" works, when it comes to something that does make a difference to your partner.
238
Suzy at 221 and 223 makes very good points, succinctly.

@226: Why would anyone want to be married to someone who has to be forced to make the commitment?
A variety of reasons, from the unpleasant (I just want to marry someone and feel my options are vanishing) to the more reasonable (I deeply love this person and believe a little more time will bring them to the same page of commitment--which is totally logical at many points in the relationship, until gradually it isn't) to the economic (sunk cost fallacy, whereby breaking up with someone renders the time investment wasted). And yes, it's easy to see if the people and relationship are theoretical to you; harder if your emotions are deeply involved.

Let's say I'm 25 and going on a first date. I know that marriage, children, and half a dozen other things are important to me and that I want them at some point in the future. I don't know if this person is the one I want to do any of those things with. If they wear a T-shirt that says "Hi! I have a fear of commitment!" then I know not to bother with a second date. If they state right off that they don't want children, I know not to treat this as a long-term thing. But if what actually happens is that this is a pretty great person--not perfect, but pretty great--and I fall in love, and he does too, but he needs more time to be sure before the big step of marriage... and he SAYS he wants marriage and kids and such, and he wants them with me, but he isn't there yet... well, I'm invested, my emotions are deeply involved, I've put lots of time into it, and he IS a pretty great person, so maybe a little more time...?
239
@237 You are making a lot of valid points, especially the very last one.
240
My connection died for the day about half an hour after my last post yesterday.

I was a less-than-a-year-in baby produced by a Waiting-for-the-Wedding Couple who would have split up before my conception had they not Married For Sex. I don't recommend it.

In general I tend to agree with Ms Cute, although she seems (disappointingly) to buy into The Proposal. Multiple other posters, whom I presume to be women, have mentioned not proposing "because it was important to him". Now, while doubtless everyone who has posted that in this thread is writing nothing less than Absolute Truth, in general I incline to a bit of natural cross-examination of an attitude that coincides so closely with convenience.

(Before I proceed, I want to thank Ms Erica for being the only opposite-sexer so far to consider how on earth any same-sexers ever manage to get engaged without gender roles. The conclusion didn't seem entirely recognizable, but I do appreciate the effort. Yes, Mr Savage made it about gender roles, but even Ms Cute will acknowledge that this discussion has been rather more heterocentric - or at least heteronormative - than usual.)

Now to resume. I can accept that many women who take the attitude of Letting Him Propose do so without using that position as a cover for not wanting to acknowledge an Inner Princess. (I am on the side of acknowledging Inner Princes/Princesses be they in males, females or others, and then working with what there is, but accept that for some the baggage of making such an admission is too great.) Acknowledging His (Presumed) Inner Prince is a position I can admire in a way, as it allows the one who acknowledges to accept kudos for indulging a partner when it's the partner who has to do what the Prince of Arragon would call the giving and hazarding. But receiving a ring is so often the limit of one's journey into Princessdom, a sort of (though not, of course, for anyone in this discussion) last vestige of Princess Privilege without agreeing to sit in a little room on the top floor of a tower wearing a hennin all day. Now, even if I had a stake in the matter, which I don't, I should not propose a return to the days of Man and Wife. But, in a world in which a Prince's intrinsic human worth is supposed to be equal to that of a Princess, and we are supposed to be trending in that direction, it might be nice to see, as Prince Privilege is chipped away little by little (as it needs to be), to see Princess Privilege at least prepare to follow suit. But, if anything, The Proposal is bigger and healthier than ever. It is tempting to come to the conclusion that opposite-sexers don't want same-sexers to assimilate if that's the model they want to offer. The more I consider the letter, the more impressed I am with Mr Savage, Great Assimilationist as he is, to be willing to take his response so far as he does.

Ms Cute wants to see the BF down on one knee with a sparkler (for which he presumably had to sell or put off purchasing at least a new motorcycle, if not a Rolls Royce - and we can put off for some time a discussion of the question of the diamond industry's being irredeemably tainted - and no rubies or emeralds as substitutes out of respect for Quadlings and Glikkuns - are sapphires acceptable?). I am not quite prepared to conjure that, if such a dream proposal occurs, LW will become momentarily possessed by the spirit of Diane Chambers. But I can see going there.
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@Rosysunbeam: I don't like thinking that he needs an incentive, like "what's in it for him." A partner who loves him, takes care of him, wants to build a family with him,.. Is that not enough for a man?

But that's what he already has, and that's what you already have too, right? It apparently is enough for him, but it's not enough for you.
The person who is unsatisfied with a pretty nice relationship isn't him; let's not get distracted by why he doesn't feel an urgent need to want something other than the (by all accounts, very happy) relationship he currently has.

Want to buy a raffle ticket? Tickets cost $1,000, and the payout if you win is $1,000.

...No deal? It doesn't matter what the odds of winning are? Of course not. Same for him. Either make the payout more than what he's already got, or make it so that not buying a ticket costs him something.

That aside, July is as good a deadline as any. Wait until after the holidays (in case he is going to make a proposal), and then tell him that if you're not engaged by July, you're going to be forced to start the process of finding a partner who does actually want to get married. And then, start preparing (move out, separate finances, etc), so that if July comes with no ring, you can break up without too many complications.

Right now you're stuck, but you don't have to be stuck.

@ 200: All those who weren't able to have sex with the woman until marriage would! All this is making a strong case for a return to earlier cultural norms and value systems.

It's almost as though those earlier value systems didn't spring up out of a vacuum. ;)

This is sort of a tangent, but I notice that modern gender analysis usually revolves around the unstated/unexamined assumption that women, up until a few generations ago, were mindless drones who had no idea how to influence society to make it work the way they wanted.

If you instead believe that women are just as capable as men, and always have been, then it's not so surprising that the sexual revolution--while positive--also came with some costs. Because all revolutions have costs; the previous systems only survived because most people supported them, and people supported them because they were getting something out of it.

Not much, maybe, but something.

@215: I hate to think that men and women are as essentially opposed as you paint them to be. It makes me depressed.

Men and women are different people, usually, and different people want different things. It doesn't have to be depressing, but it does have to be negotiated.

Which is POPDAQ's whole problem: She's not negotiating. Right now, she's offering zero positive incentives if he does propose, and zero negative ones if he does not.

@Adz: If you registered, we'd be able to read your comments more easily. Most of us don't see unregistered ones.
This, particularly, shouldn't be missed:

@220: The shoe-horning thing is so, so accurate. Male gender performances often involve erasing one's own individuality and feelings in subservience to some kind of role-playing or archetypical/collective identity: the armed services, the corporate world, being "a good provider" and "strong", and that old trope "I always love a man in uniform!" The thought of being a groom can seem like yet another costume to wear.

If a woman has an agenda which seems wholly independent of your relationship -- "I want to get married and start a family, with or without you" -- it can read as a sign that, as much as a woman might claim to care about you, she's equally or more concerned about how neatly or willingly you slot into a role in the fantasy-play she's got worked out for herself.

I'm not sure that "wanting to get married" or "wanting to start a family", in the abstract, deserves any more respect than "wanting to get laid": that is, it's very possible to want to do all three of these things while remaining fundamentally indifferent to the personhood of the man or woman you propose to do them with. I know plenty of women for whom getting married was largely a stepping stone to starting a family and having a domestic life, and for whom the timetable frankly seemed more important than the specific person they were marrying.


I'd note, though, that here we do usually respect a desire to get laid. There's nothing wrong with affording equal respect to the desire to have a marriage and a family, provided it really is equal respect.

@237: re: "I believe that a guy's reluctance to marry is based far more often on a desire to not become his dad."
See, I have zero patience with this.


This seems to be a common attitude for women, doesn't it? "I have zero patience for whatever concerns you." But against all reason, male reluctance to marry is still considered a mystery. Odd.

Would you want to marry someone who had zero patience for concerns that matter to you?
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@240: I don't generally participate in the Savage Love threads, although I lurk, but I just had to tell you that as some one with a degree in costume design, your use of the word "hennin" gave me great joy.
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Just checking back in on this (and attempting to contribute to fixing the HTML). On why men (and women) hesitate to commit:

I think men, by and large, know they aren't going to want to be with only one woman for ever and ever, at least not sexually. I don't really buy that a majority of humans - much less men (gay or straight) are really wired for sexual monogamy - with the exception of the asexual. So, yes, why tie yourself down?

This, though, is a completely different thing:

Yes, and women do this too. Usually expressed as something like "He's great on paper, I should be in love with him, why do I keep hesitating?"

This is a good reason to hesitate. In fact, I think far too few women do hesitate here, and I wish more would. Far too many marry the guy who is good on paper, and then, once the babies and material things arrive, lose all interest in the guy. He was a means to that end, and now they aren't interested. I think that accelerates the bed-death and acrimony. I think that's a huge part of why so many guys feel like marriage is a dead-end for them.

So, in this sense, I think the unable-to-commit and ambivalent are doing us all a huge favor. There's a good reason they "marry the next person and have a baby within a year".

Just MHO.
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I work in family law and handle divorces. In my observation I have noticed that people have huge misconceptions as to what a ring does to a person. Most of time the answer is a big NOTHING. See, to many men, the fact that they provide, care for you, only sleep with you, etc. is THE COMMITMENT. There are few upsides to a man to get married, in most cases "husband" is no more than a title and doesn't change anything substantive. Women consider this; is it possible that your man does in fact want to spend the rest of his life with you without having to go through the hoopla of getting married and that to him it is his love for you and time he spends with you that is actually what is important?

One more thing, if the "commitment" of marriage is something that is going to better guarantee you that he won't do wrong/leave you, is that really a person one should marry? A person who needs to sign a contract to have morals.

My advice: Do not marry someone you don't think would want to spend the rest of his/her life with you in the absence of a contract.
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Ms Lissa - Happy to oblige.
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@230: This is nagging at me: ...seemed hell-bent on getting married and having kids with the nearest available man who was reasonably adequate, including dumping great guys who weren't quite ready in favor of mediocre guys who were.

I think a standard relationship rule is that you date the person they are now, not the person you think they could someday turn into. Arguing that someone is fabulous husband/father/etc material, even if they are unwilling to actually do those things with their partner of many years, seems rather like arguing that they're awesome rock-climbers, they just have good reasons to not ever go rock-climbing. In potentia they're awesome rock-climbers, and getting hung-up on what they actually do is so shortsighted.

Having one's shit together, wanting a commitment, being ready to move forward on shared goals, these are hardly minor things to value in a mate.
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During all the discussions of marriage equality, the numerous *legal* benefits, agreements, rights and responsibilities of marriage have been discussed repeatedly. The denial of these rights, except through often expensive and complex legal work, to same-sex partners, has been one of the central focuses of the campaign for marriage equality. It is about the ring and the piece of paper, sure - and the right to have that equally - but it's also and very practically about the right to not be legally and financially burdened to construct a whole series of legal papers to accomplish rights automatically transferred by marriage.

So marriage, in this context, most agree, is not a "piece of paper," a "ring" or a "symbol," but something that carries practical benefits, rights and responsibilities.

If people don't want to marry each other, great - they shouldn't! But wanting marriage is pretty much not about weddings, rings, or pieces of paper, particularly when it comes to things like moving across country, purchasing property, or having children, it is about choosing to take up that set of legal rights and responsibilities in the relationship, about being each other's next of kin, etc.

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I think the science shows that married men get more sex, over the years, than single men. They get less than they were expecting (and some really do get cut off), but most married men get more sex than they would get as single men.

Doesn't the science also show that married men are healthier & live longer than their single counterparts?

I haven't looked any of this up, but I could if people find it controversial.

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@240: But, in a world in which a Prince's intrinsic human worth is supposed to be equal to that of a Princess, and we are supposed to be trending in that direction, it might be nice to see, as Prince Privilege is chipped away little by little (as it needs to be), to see Princess Privilege at least prepare to follow suit. But, if anything, The Proposal is bigger and healthier than ever.

One thing that the fight against the other kinds of privilege has taught us is that the privileged will fight tooth and nail to defend their privileges, using whatever means are available. Foremost among these means is denying that the privilege exists.

That said, this is one of the (comparatively) rare circumstances for which the rest of us should envy same-sexers: At the very least, every one of your potential partners will have already had to learn that the kind of relationship they personally want is not the kind of relationship everyone wants; y'all don't run the same risk of ending up with a partner who doesn't understand that her fantasy is her fantasy, not THE fantasy.

If you're straight, you can make it a lot longer into your lifespan before having to learn that the relationship you feel is "normal" is, in fact, only normal to you; I imagine same-sexers don't have that problem.
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@248: I think the science shows that married men get more sex, over the years, than single men. They get less than they were expecting (and some really do get cut off), but most married men get more sex than they would get as single men.

Doesn't the science also show that married men are healthier & live longer than their single counterparts?


The problem isn't that men don't know that, it's that it isn't persuasive on an individual level. Marriage works out fairly well for most men, but men are individuals, and none of us is "most men," and almost all of us know that.

Being told what "most women" like to eat isn't going to affect what you want for dinner, no matter how rigorous the survey. Additionally, I imagine many women would find suggestions to the contrary to be insulting.
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"Please trust me when I tell you that you will lead a happier life if you marry a man who is excited by the thought of marrying you. If you must push and nudge him now, you will need to push and nudge him through most major decisions of your life. It really doesn't matter WHY, if he wanted to marry you, you would be engaged by now. Put the baby on the shelf for now. You should have that baby with a man that is excited about being your husband and the father of your children. Go and have a happy life! "
This is so true!
I disagree with the dozens of posts recommending more discussions about your needs/his reluctance. MOVE OUT. Do not discuss moving out, find an apartment, put your stuff in it and then tell him, gently, kindly, that you now understand that the future you have planned isn't the one he has planned.
It is quite probable that he will then propose. If I were you, I would refuse and hold out for someone who was able to commit to me without reservations, without prodding and who viewed what was important to me as being -by definition- important to him. The dynamic you are now in is poisonous- he will always blame you for the escalating commitment instead of being delighted that he was lucky enough that you committed to him.
On a related note- I think this cultural meme about men being anti marriage is bull. Studies show that men usually decide very, very early in a relationship if they want to pursue a permanent commitment. Women actually take much longer.
And jesus, who would even consider a marriage with a partner who put off committing because they thought someone "better" might come along???
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Eudaemonic@250 "men are individuals," and most of those individuals do get married. So why say that it's unpersuasive?

But I agree that it's not persuasive as a reason to marry this particular woman who is pressuring you.

Which is why I think it's wiser for the one who wants to get married to ease off the pressure, and make it clear that you are autonomous and sexually desirable to other people and a fun person to be with.

Mr. Ven @240, yes, sapphires are fine :-) See Diana, Princess of Wales.

As far as how to get het women to stop expecting Prince-type proposals and Disney-style weddings, it seems to me that that's up to het men. If they said: "I totally want to commit to you, I just don't want the big wedding and I won't get down on one knee or buy a big ring" -- I think they'd find most likely partners would eventually agree to that deal. (As the LW said @93.)
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@252 the "you" in parag 2 is a het man. The "you" in parag 3 refers to the partner with the greater desire to get married. Sorry for any confusion.
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@247: If people don't want to marry each other, great - they shouldn't! But wanting marriage is pretty much not about weddings, rings, or pieces of paper, particularly when it comes to things like moving across country, purchasing property, or having children, it is about choosing to take up that set of legal rights and responsibilities in the relationship, about being each other's next of kin, etc.

This, so much.
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This is getting funny, so I hope the LW doesn't take any of these opinions seriously, because anybody who doesn't understand that this world is has been an exclusive club for men --- specifically Caucasian Hetero Men --- and no matter what laws we make prohibiting abuse, manipulation, and injustice towards all but Caucasian Hetero Men, by CHM, there will always be some who cannot understand the privilege due to some serious denial.

The only legitimate excuse for refusing to marry a partner you have been living with or otherwise playing house with; you finally decided to treat your partner with respect and let them find someone who will allow them something that is important to them, because knowing is important, it's called nesting and if you won't provide that comfort, then don't, but don't feed people bullshit excuses, that just makes you a coward

all other reasons are bullshit, cowardly, lies, if you don't have the courage to stand up and make your bonds whatever you and your committed agree them to be, don't be a spineless fuck and blame society for your shortcomings

don't be a spineless fuck and if you cannot commit to monogamy --- if that is what your partner wants --- then tell them, be polyamorous or non-monogamous but don't be a punk and blame the "constructs" of society that are wrong and not you. You don't have to trash monogamy to be non-monogamous, if you can't take responsibility for your choices as the ultimate privileged ass, that's pretty pathetic

It's not wrong to turn her down, but it is pretty fucked up to not give an honest answer when your partner decides they don't want to fuck around and they want to know where you stand

if you have been in a long term serious relationship, you owe it to them to honestly answer, even if it's not the answer they want to hear

because honestly, that's why it's important, because so many people out there --- mainly men --- are full of shit, and if you are not, then give them the security of having your words match your actions, or find a better way to show symmetry
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@252: Make it clear that you are autonomous and sexually desirable to other people and a fun person to be with.

I think it's interesting how often this has come up, and it's so firmly counter to the frustrating powerlessness of waiting endlessly. Whether it's Nocute's mom's agreeing to dial back the relationship to a less committed level, meaning she could date someone else on Friday; or the idea that an ultimatum (stated or not) puts one in the position of someone who has come up with two options beyond the lone "just wait and feel unwanted" and how that changes your confidence and sense of being desirable.
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Hm, weird, the bold thing is fixed in IE and on Android, but in Chrome everything is still displayed in bold.
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Mr. Ven, A point of clarification. I have no stake in The Proposal. I think the Cult of the Super-Fabulous Proposal/Wedding is one of the more absurd and insidious phenomena our culture has produced in the last 50 or so years.

Much as LateBloomer was trying to channel the mindset of a typical straight reluctant to marry 28-year-old man, I was trying, way upthread @61 to get rosysunbeam to think about why a proposal seemed so important to her. I couldn't tell if she wanted the marriage or the Romantic Proposal & Big Wedding. I was not indicating my preference for the princess treatment; just acknowledging its existence and importance for some women. When I said that if indeed rosysunbeam's boyfriend had already bought an engagement ring and was planning on surprising her with it in a few weeks, she should tell us about it, I was responding to the suggestion made by anney @166. I didn't mean she should tell us so we could all squeal with joy and excitement and start looking through bridal magazines together; I meant, since up to that moment all but a handful of 168 comments had been working on the agreed assumption that rosysunbeam's non-proposing boyfriend wasn't going to propose, if he did, she should set us straight. I wasn't endorsing anything. If anything, the tone I was aiming for was mild irony. I guess I failed.

@adz: I, too, would urge you to register. Your comments are interesting, articulate additions to the discussion, and a lot of people won't read them if they aren't registered.

I also want to say that I appreciate discussions like this, especially when people aren't responding heatedly and hurling insults at each other. While sometimes I feel as if straight men and women are millions of miles apart and that does indeed depress me, I also think that deep and honest discussion between them helps to bridge that gap through understanding--at least a little bit--what the "other" thinks, experiences, goes through (keeping in mind Eudaemonic's excellent point, @250, that people are individuals and it is foolish to try to consider "all men" or "women").

For instance, I hadn't considered LateBloomer's or adz's theory that men often feel squeezed into constricting boxes that force a particular kind of "manhood" on them. And now I have an added sympathy for that feeling. I don't accept it as an excuse for constantly disappointing your partner, but I see it. Although I am far more inclined to think that AFinch's and Ricardo's explanation of seeing only a downside to marriage via the loss of freedom and the closure of the possibility of finding an even sexier woman is what is often behind such refusals to commit to marriage. But, no, LateBloomer, I don't think that attitude is nefarious at all. I just think it is.
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@257: It's still bold in Firefox. I'll check Safari, but I hate using Safari.
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@252: Which is why I think it's wiser for the one who wants to get married to ease off the pressure, and make it clear that you are autonomous and sexually desirable to other people and a fun person to be with.

Agreed; turning bitter about a lack of a proposal doesn't make a proposal more forthcoming.
And the carrot can be used as well as the stick--for example if he wants to buy a house with you but is hesitant to get married, it's well within your rights to make the house-buying contingent on the marriage-having. But it sounds like POPDAQ doesn't have much more to offer by way of carrots, so she needs to think about the stick.

As far as how to get het women to stop expecting Prince-type proposals and Disney-style weddings, it seems to me that that's up to het men.

No? Men don't control the preferences of women; we only control our own behavior. Prince-type proposals and Disney-style weddings are responses to pressure from women. Unilaterally becoming immune to pressure is not something of which humans are capable, and men are humans.

These situations will stop happening when women either no longer want them, or no longer have the power to compel them to happen. If you think I, by virtue of my Y chromosome, have the power to change either of those facts, by all means tell me how.
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@257: Hm, weird, the bold thing is fixed in IE and on Android, but in Chrome everything is still displayed in bold.

So it's settled, then? Chrome is clearly the boldest of browsers!
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@ 258: I think the Cult of the Super-Fabulous Proposal/Wedding is one of the more absurd and insidious phenomena our culture has produced in the last 50 or so years.

I'm under the impression it dates back to Victoria. At least the Princess thing comes from an actual princess, I guess.
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^^attempting everything...
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.

It's a mystery.
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@258: (Sorry for the post-spamming)
For instance, I hadn't considered LateBloomer's or adz's theory that men often feel squeezed into constricting boxes that force a particular kind of "manhood" on them. And now I have an added sympathy for that feeling.

That's a necessary thing to be aware of, though it's a bit shocking how few people having these conversations are aware of it. If we're talking about how gender roles affect people--as opposed to only how they affect women--then that's one of the very first issues people should recognize.

A woman not knowing this is like a man not knowing that women often feel like other people are defining them by their sexuality; it's the absolute minimum level of understanding needed to even start the conversation. That it's easy for a woman to feel like an expert on gender issues without having the faintest grasp of what it's like to be a man doesn't say good things about our culture.

(This isn't really directed at you, just... damn, we've got a long way to go. I really get that same depression you were talking about earlier.)
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@262: No doubt Victoria's wedding influenced weddings enormously (even the white dress, which morphed into a "wedding gown" comes from her). But the whole princess proposal seems to have really gotten a steroidal boost in more recent years. All those clips circulating on the internet where people try to outdo each other in proposing in ever more over-the-top ways. The ring pictures that young women apparently post on social media (fortunately I haven't seen any, but most of my friends are older), the tv shows like "Say Yes to the Dress," the number of pre-wedding parties and showers, the destination bachelor or bachelorette party/weekend, the destination wedding, the sheer wallowing excess of weddings: themed, broadcast, flaunted. The Fucking Disney Weddings! It reminds me of movies made during the Great Depression which featured scenes of the ultra-rich living it up: a source of envy and a distraction.
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For all those advocating going straight to the house-and-kids thing and bypassing the marriage thing on the assumption the only difference between living together and being married is a delusional obsession with jewellery and expensive parties, look up the legal implications in your jurisdiction. It may or may not be.

When a couple raise children it’s common for one parent to take on opportunity costs in terms of income and career in order to care for the couple’s children. (The other parent often pays a price in decreased closeness to the children.) These days I think most jurisdictions focus on the needs of the child and don’t determine what the parents owe them based on their marital status at the time of birth. Child support is usually just child support. Division of property however is different. In my jurisdiction an unmarried couple have no claims on one another whatever after a breakup no matter how long they have been together or who paid for what. (This was established in the sixties or seventies by a woman who sued her ex for half the farm that she had paid for, given that she had a much more significant cash income than her partner did. She thought the farm was a communal project but it turns out that the law didn’t agree. His name was on the deed and they weren’t officially married so he kept everything.)

In other jurisdictions de facto marriages are recognized. Mine is not one of them but yours may be. Investigate.

(Disclosure: I’m married and I like it more than I expected I would. No ring, no public wedding.)

(An aside completely unrelated to legal concerns: I proposed to my spouse the very first time we ever met. The third time we met we went through a checklist of things important for life-partner compatibility. I got a proposal back about a year later and then we eloped. Two months later we moved in together. If you know yourself well enough then you don’t need years to figure these things out.)
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@ 266: But haven't all social performances/displays gotten a boost from the internet? I mean, lots of things seem to have gotten crazier and more competitive--it looks to me like weddings are part of this, but far from the only part. People flaunt everything now--weddings are particularly flauntable--but my grandparents and their contemporaries sound like they did the same, and that was a long time ago.

It reminds me of movies made during the Great Depression which featured scenes of the ultra-rich living it up: a source of envy and a distraction.

So, yeah. I think it's exactly like that, because it is that.
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@265 (Eudaemnoic): You know, perhaps it's an aspect of culturally constructed manhood that men rarely speak to women or in a public forum about the gender roles they feel constricted by.

Without someone telling any of us what their lived reality is, how are any of us to know that it's any different from our own?

I think women have been talking in a public way about the gender roles and expectations they have thrust upon them for some time now, beginning in the 1970s, but really picking up steam in more recent decades. Much as we here on Savage Love's comment thread like to bash women's studies classes, they have served the purpose--valuable, I'd say, if sometimes clunkyily and overly-earnestly--of helping to educate. We could all use a little more education. I'm not at all a fan of the mrm, but I do get a bit of that point.

So I'm grateful to the men, straight and gay, that participate in this forum, to help me understand a male perspective.

And while I'm depressed at how great the gulf of even understanding each other seems to be, we can't do anything about it if we aren't even aware it's there or how widely it spans or how deeply it reaches. This is preliminary mapping. It's useful, if rudimentary.
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Dear POPDAQ: Wait until January 2. If he hasn't proposed, think about whether you want 2014 to be the same as 2013. Then, frankly, I suggest you start making plans to un-separate your lives. You can move out and still date him if you want, but frankly, he doesn't want to marry you. You could put another 3.5 years into this relationship, or another seven, or how many you want, but if it hasn't already changed, it's not going to. So just think about whether you want to be in the exact same place next year as this year.

You could propose, of course. You could force his hand. Or you could make plans to get on with your life.

Frankly, if someone has that much hesitation about moving forward, I doubt it's going to work even if he decides to marry you to avoid your ultimatum. That's why I think you should just un-separate your lives and go forth on your own.

It wouldn't hurt to get some counseling to figure out why you've stuck it out with a guy who can't be honest with you.

And #10, love your story. I did the same thing as your mom did. I didn't marry that guy but I did enjoy being strong enough to leave.
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@260, I'm confused -- het women can't "compel" het men to make an elaborate Disney proposal, nor can women "compel" men to participate in a fancy Disney wedding. Few women would walk away from an otherwise excellent partner if he held firm on those issues.

Of course I can't make het men "immune to pressure" just as feminists couldn't make women "immune to pressure," but the more het men who come out of the closet as disliking the gender roles assigned to them, the easier it will be for other men to do so in the future.
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@ 269: You know, perhaps it's an aspect of culturally constructed manhood that men rarely speak to women or in a public forum about the gender roles they feel constricted by.

Absolutely! A big part of the role is to pretend that the role isn't a role--that the sacrifice of individuality isn't a sacrifice, because admitting otherwise would be failing to make a sufficient sacrifice of individuality (i.e., whining).

I suspect that part of why progress is so slow on this front is that admitting the ways society victimizes you is a hell of a lot simpler when society rewards seeing yourself as a helpless victim in the first place. When your value is based on being seen as powerful and impossible to victimize, that's a strong incentive to keep your problems to yourself. If you admit that being a man takes effort, you're admitting that you're less than a man, and we don't exactly treat "less than men" very well.

Without someone telling any of us what their lived reality is, how are any of us to know that it's any different from our own?

Yeah. One of the reasons I like this space is that when told, sometimes you guys listen. In most spaces ostensibly concerned about gender equality, that's not so much the case. (Nobody is so vehement as someone who feels that their privileges are being threatened.)

We could all use a little more education. I'm not at all a fan of the mrm, but I do get a bit of that point.

If you're looking for other people who do this, Ally Fogg's blog ("Heteronormative Patriarchy for Men") is a good place to start (as with feminism, finding non-psycho voices regarding gender issues for men can take some effort), though I imagine Fogg would be amused by the way I seem to be lumping him in with the mrm.

There's a lot there, though it's best for people who happen to have a high tolerance for British political commentary and a lot of patience for routine efforts to explain very basic Feminism 101 concepts to a male audience--posts can sometimes swing wildly between aiming at an audience with a high level of familiarity with the subject and aiming at an audience with none at all. But if you're fine with both of those things, it's a good read.

His new place is here, having ended up at an atheist-focused site for reasons that aren't immediately apparent.
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There is only one reason why a 28-year-old man who's been in a 3.5 year relationship wouldn't want to get married. Because he thinks he might eventually want out without the effort and expense of a divorce.

I don't know that you will ever be able to do anything that will make him ready. And that kind of lazy selfishness on his part is exactly the wrong message to be sending you. It doesn't exactly demonstrate his commitment to making you feel comfortable, desired, and happy.

If you want to wait until after the holidays, fine. But I'd think hard about whether you want to be married to a guy who treats you this way.

With my wife, I knew in about a month, but she made it clear that she had to work out a few issues related to previous unsuccessful relationships and she didn't want to talk about marriage. So I just kept my trap shut and waited. In six months we were talking about marriage. No proposal, it was just something we were going to do.
274
@271:
het women can't "compel" het men to make an elaborate Disney proposal, nor can women "compel" men to participate in a fancy Disney wedding.

They can, and they do? How do you imagine these things keep happening, then?
It is not because the men want them, which should be an indication as to who has the power to decide how the wedding goes and who does not have it.

Few women would walk away from an otherwise excellent partner if he held firm on those issues.

Few? Really? I've just been reading a thread in which numerous women advised another woman to prepare to do exactly that, and it seems to be the conventional viewpoint. And in which people share their stories of women who have done exactly that, or threatened to do exactly that in order to obtain compliance.
It's the same thread in which I'm posting right now. The evidence we have says it is not few at all.

Of course I can't make het men "immune to pressure" just as feminists couldn't make women "immune to pressure,"

Indeed! Instead, feminists pressured men to stop pressuring women, and met with some success.

I get what you're saying, but the idea that some (large quantity of) men should sacrifice their own personal happiness for the (nebulous) benefit of other people is kind of... not a new idea, and unlikely to change a system defined by expecting them to sacrifice their own individual happiness for other people's theoretical benefit.
It's possible that I'm excessively skeptical of suggestions like that--"take one for the team" is a suggestion men hear often, and it seems unlikely to be the right approach to correct the problem of men being constantly asked to take one for the team.
275
Quoting 273: There is only one reason why a 28-year-old man who's been in a 3.5 year relationship wouldn't want to get married. Because he thinks he might eventually want out without the effort and expense of a divorce.

This lie is a fine example of what I was talking about in 272 and 274. Here we have a man failing to "take one for the team," who is treating himself as an individual (with feelings and desires) rather than as a machine.
How does the observer respond? By lying about the man's possible motives. And then by insulting him, and then by putting himself forward as a counterexample to this un-manly man. Because priority #1 is always to declare your own compliance to the ideals of manliness, isn't it?

This kind of posturing is why women are so ignorant about what it's like to be a man. Good job, marmer!
276
@274: I've just been reading a thread in which numerous women advised another woman to prepare to do exactly that, and it seems to be the conventional viewpoint. And in which people share their stories of women who have done exactly that.

You're reading a totally different thread. The "exactly that" that people propose is to prepare to move on if your partner of several years, knowing marriage is important to you, still doesn't want to marry you. It means he (or she) doesn't want to marry you. The "exactly that" on which men were supposed to hold firm was a huge elaborate stressful debt-load wedding. Those are very different things. Saying that in "the culture" they are the same is taking a very limited view of the culture, as though there were only one model for anything and not a whole host of little subcultures doing different versions.

I think Nocute is dead-on with the comparison to 30s movies, and you are correct about everything being flaunted, the "pimp my X" culture. How that changes is that people, of all genders, opt not to play. Men have certainly been guilty of wanting to impress their circle with an attention-getting proposal, for example, and they aren't having a bachelor party weekend (or week!) at an expensive destination because even though all the guys hate it wifey insisted. People of all available genders have opted to elope, or go to city hall with two witnesses, or to have a simple potluck gathering.

277
@274 Hey! I think @273 was a play on your post @260, and a pretty good one at that. BTW this thread is not about a woman who wants a Disney proposal, she just wants to get married.

You seem incredibly bitter and aggressive and towards women for whatever reason which is off-putting and makes it seem like you have your head stuck firmly up your ass. The post @273 could say the same thing about a woman and I would still agree: if you don't want to commit after a really long term it means you are really not that sure about your relationship.

Someone here mentioned the fight for gay marriage. Do you really think this fight has been about something so silly as an expensive ring or a proposal? The fight is to have the legal rights and responsibilities that come with marriage such as hospital visitation, tax breaks, automatic joint property, inheritance, spouse insurance benefits, immigration rights and whatnot. All this is pretty important and to refuse to accept that and claim that marriage doesn't change anything is silly. So if someone doesn't want the security of all that just to avoid feeling like their father, screw them because it's incredibly immature.
278
POPDAQ, a lot of great opinions and perspective have been offered, so I'm going to throw out a different perspective for the sake of learning more about yourself and appreciating the man you are choosing to be with.

Have you considered the possibility that you are also unready for marriage? It strikes me that some of your expectations about marriage are a little outdated and unrealistic. Dan already pointed out that your expectation for a proposal is based on some destructive social norms, and I agree that this is getting in your way. But the fact that you and several other readers have referred to a proposal as an ultimatum is disconcerting. Marriage is a form of relationship, not an end all, not a guarantee that will keep him or anyone else with you for the rest of your life. To grow old together is a privilege and achievement that few marriages end up enjoying. While it's nice to set out with that intention it is unfair and unrealistic to EXPECT that from anybody. This is the core, outdated, unrealistic expectation that ruins many marriages.

There is a reason a proposal is called a proposal and not an ultimatum. Relationships are fluid, living creatures, ever evolving and changing. He won't just say "no" or "yes," he will reveal more about who he is and where he is at in his life, and he will be impressed by your courage. But please, do it right, with a ring, a romantic evening... do the work to make it feel sincere and bold.

If the thought of proposing scares you, try these suggestions:
Start by examining this belief, which you appear to have: a successful marriage should last a lifetime. This is simply not true, and is based on a very rare version of marriage.

Then ask yourself, is pressuring the "love of your life" really what a loving person would do to the love of their life?

In a nutshell POPDAQ I'm suggesting that it is YOU who is confused about marriage. In admitting to be unsure about whether he is ready your boyfriend is actually communicating more clearly about where he is at than you are.

Dan knows his stuff... Make a proposal if you feel ready, and if you are afraid it will seem like an ultimatum than I promise you that YOU too are unready for marriage;)
279
@276: Saying that in "the culture" they are the same is taking a very limited view of the culture, as though there were only one model for anything and not a whole host of little subcultures doing different versions.

Fair enough. I might be reading the thread wrong, but overall we seem to have a pretty hostile response to a man whose marriage plans don't perfectly align with his partner's. I mostly share it, which I find worrying.

@ 277: @274 Hey! I think @273 was a play on your post @260, and a pretty good one at that.

Care to explain that? It looks instead like knee-jerk macho posturing, and knee-jerk condemnation of people who fail to do the same. And 277 looks like knee-jerk lashing out against people who question that.

BTW this thread is not about a woman who wants a Disney proposal, she just wants to get married.

Do we know that? I don't know if POPDAQ said that somewhere and I missed it, or if she just hasn't said it.

You seem incredibly bitter and aggressive and towards women for whatever reason which is off-putting and makes it seem like you have your head stuck firmly up your ass.

Looks like somebody's privilege feels threatened. I described a little of the pressures men experience. That you feel this is "incredibly bitter and aggressive" says a lot about you, and not good things. I'm sorry.

This, by the way, is more of what I was talking about earlier--the reason more women don't know any of this is because people like puddles start flinging garbage as soon as it comes up. It's usually an effective silencing tactic, I suppose.

Someone here mentioned the fight for gay marriage. Do you really think this fight has been about something so silly as an expensive ring or a proposal?

What on Earth are you talking about? Did you mean to be responding to someone else?

You seem to be responding to something I didn't write. Can you quote whatever it is you think you're addressing?
280
Luckily this isn't WONTPOP, though it does bare a striking resemblence, WONTPOP if you are reading this the absolute worst thing you can do if your girlfriend comes to you with a concern is explain to her how and why she is wrong and SHE's the one confused about marriage.
281
What if he told his mother he doesn't need to go ring shopping because he's already purchased one?
282
@279

@276: Saying that in "the culture" they are the same is taking a very limited view of the culture, as though there were only one model for anything and not a whole host of little subcultures doing different versions.

Fair enough. I might be reading the thread wrong, but overall we seem to have a pretty hostile response to a man whose marriage plans don't perfectly align with his partner's. I mostly share it, which I find worrying.


I think the comment was in regards to your taking the opposite meaning intended when a commenter said something along the lines of:

"Few women would walk away from an otherwise excellent partner if he held firm on those issues."

I think the reply might have been intended to mean the opposite of how you took it, as in implying that POPDAQ's BF really isn't perfect in every other way but marriage, despite the LW claims

it sounds like they think if he was all that, the LW wouldn't be seriously considering walking away
283
@281 who said "What if he told his mother he doesn't need to go ring shopping because he's already purchased one?"

I hope he is an excellent sprinter, because he may have to run like superman did in the original movie, as that train looks like it may have already left.

But that would be the classic male thing to do, after she gets fed up and leaves, then begin to treat her with respect and not leave her hanging.

This tragedy may turn comedy after all LOL
284
puddles@277 said: "this thread is not about a woman who wants a Disney proposal, she just wants to get married."

Eudaemonic @279 replied: "Do we know that?"

See rosysunbeam@93: "I would elope if he really wanted to skip the wedding...Sacrificing a wedding to have the commitment is something I would do."
285
@278: A proposal and an ultimatum are different things, and treated as such herein. (Except for the fact that when the answer to a proposal is "Nope. Never" then you normally break up, so it's a binomial presentation. Life has those. The problem arises from the "maybe possibly at a future date which I cannot predict at this time, but I don't know" answer.)

Proposal:
"Will you marry me?"
or it's modern variation, "I want a future together, I want to get married, how do you feel?" Which if positive may eventually lead to a formal proposal, or may be considered a done deal on its own. Her later posts clarified that they had this de facto proposal on the table.

Ultimatum:
"I've told you marriage is important to me, and you've told me you think maybe down the road, not yet. I want to move on with my life: preferably together with you, but indefinite holding is not an answer I can live with any more. It's been 3.5 years, you've known I want marriage for the past six months, if you can't figure it out in another six months I want to be free to move on and find someone who does want a future together."

People do pressure the love of their life for things. Like kids: you're parents or you're not. You're married or you're not. You're living within a couple hours drive of your hometown or you're not. You're moving across the country together or you're not. There are lots of things in life that are all one or the other. Whereas the nature of the wedding, or how you split up domestic chores, or a thousand details of what you are like as a person and what your relationship is like, those can follow a thousand different models and be tweaked to what works for you.

I agree with you that people change, and relationships change. But to me that's a reason to abandon the idea of not committing to anyone until the date you will wake up feeling grown-up (usually defined as a moving target of 18, then 22, 25, 30, 35, and then current age plus 2-5 years) and figure things out based on who you two are now and if this is someone you want by your side through all those future changes. If you're 35 now, then at 55 I can pretty much guarantee you are going to be a different person, the through-lines from where you are now visible but not easily predicted.
286
@284: Aha! Thanks.

@ rosysunbeam, if you're still reading this: have you talked about that with him?

I asked if we know that, but he needs to, too. If there's some aspect of getting married that scares him, and it's not an aspect that's a dealbreaker for you, that would be a great thing for you to know (I can't tell how well you guys communicate).

If it's just the idea of being your husband that makes him skittish, then it's time for a much-deserved ultimatum--followed by some preparations to make good on it.
287
Eudaemonic @272, thanks for the tip about Ally Fogg's blog - looks interesting.
288
@279: We seem to have a pretty hostile response to a man whose marriage plans don't perfectly align with his partner's.

I disagree here. I think a short time on different pages is to be expected: one person may get to "I want to be exclusive" or "I love you" or "I want to marry you" somewhat ahead of their partner (virtually always: you aren't going to be in sync to the hour), and giving their partner time to catch up is reasonable. It's giving unlimited time that ultimately doesn't work.

A: "I want to move to San Francisco, together. It's very important to me."
B: "I will want that in the future, but I don't want to move yet."

If the wait on the move is for concrete things to happen within a visualizable time-frame, then a reasonable partner waits. If you've waited a year, you try and talk about it, and your partner explains that they see themselves one day living in San Francisco with you, but they aren't ready yet, they're waiting for the day they wake up and say "Hey, now I want to move to San Francisco," and there's nothing you can do to affect the pace of this sea change, a reasonable person starts to suspect that this move, together, may never happen, no matter how long it's dangled as a future. If your partner won't make any concrete plans about that future, you feel less valued and less a part of their future, and that will eventually kill things.

289
@288: I agree completely; if your partner agrees to move to SFO in theory but is making no visible progress and has described no foreseeable circumstances in which they're going to do it, it's entirely reasonable to assume they're not going to do it without any new pressure.

My point was that this doesn't mean there's anything wrong with your partner; it just means their priorities aren't exactly the same as yours. It doesn't mean he's immature, or selfish, or a motherfucker who needs to be dumped, or whatever other insults we've produced so far. It just means he's a different person from her; different people have different priorities, and they're allowed to.
290
291
To boldly go where no blog has gone before....
292
Thanks for trying, The Beatles.
293
@289: Different people have different priorities, and they're allowed to, but they're expected to communicate those clearly, rather than make vague promises they hope will get their partner to stop talking about the thing they don't want to do. Stringing people along because an honest "No, I don't want the same things that you do" might send them packing (Change! Bad!) is not mature, unselfish, or a sign of not deserving to be broken up with.

294
Eudaemonic, I am not going to go back and look over every comment made in this discussion, but off the top of my head, I can't think of a single DTMFA response to rosysunbeam's problem. Several people--though not all--have suggested to her that she be ready and willing to move on so that she regains some control over her own life or to free herself up to find someone who wants the same things she wants on a time-table closer to her own. Some have suggested that she wait and talk. You, yourself, have used "carrot-and-stick" language more than once, suggesting that she should provide both an incentive for him to propose and/or a threat if he doesn't. Some (women) have told her to be happy she has such a wonderful boyfriend; Some (again women) offered their own stories of being patient Grizeldas, and finally some 10 years later, being "rewarded" by marriage to those initially balky men. One said that she learned she wasn't ready for marriage (her boyfriend learned her this), despite having proposed to him more than once; one decided that if her boyfriend doesn't want to do something she has identified as vastly important to her, he's not the one with the problem; she's the one with the problem (I think she credits a tv character with that insight). Some (and not all of these are men) have asked why she needs that ring or that piece of paper; one or two have opined that they wouldn't want to marry someone who had to be pressured into marrying them.

But really, no one has bashed the boyfriend.

Some have criticized rosysunbeam herself, by suggesting that she's demanding an over-the-top proposal (all these have been men), or that the boyfriend is balking at the expensive pimped-out wedding they think rosysunbeam is insistent on, even though she said she doesn't need that. Several of the commentors suggesting more modest weddings were, in fact, women.

I repeat for the nth time, that none of us know the boyfriend's thoughts or feelings. When I or several others theorized that his reluctance stems from a feeling of wanting to keep his options open, we were accused by men of assigning "malicious" motives to him, even though the trope of someone (frequently but not exclusively, the man) feeling as if marriage were a curtailment of freedom (a sentiment that Ricardo, a man, confirmed), that one of the greatest fears of marriage or the biggest or most often-cited reason for breaking off engagements or reticence to marry is because the idea of being tied down to one person (read "woman," usually, as adz so eloquently pointed out upthread) for the rest of one's life is cause for a freakout is so common a cliché as to be unquestioned as a reaction to be expected.

What is disturbing to me is how quickly, in the guise of channeling the typical 28-year-old man's presumed attitude, you, adz, and LateBloomer resort to using inflamatory language, accusing the women on this thread of displaying misandry. Look at your comment @275.
295
@289: Sure, everyone is allowed to have different priorities. What isn't okay is for one person to get to exercise total control over another's life.
As IPJ has pointed out, there are some life decisions that can go only one way or the other: those should be mutually agreed to by both partners. Then there are situations where something really, really matters to one person and barely matters at all to the other: in those situations, it seems as if the logical and loving thing for the partner who doesn't really have a preference to do is to acquiesce to the partner who cares more. And then there are areas where there is a fundamental disagreement. I think that the first response should be for the couple to talk through the issues and see if they can't come up with a compromise. But if that proves to be impossible, then, if the disagreement is profound enough, or the consequences of the disagreement are severe enough, the couple should break up. Neither should prevail if that "victory" comes at the cost of exerting undue control over the other.
296
nocutename,

Just to be nitpicky, I count 5 DTMFAs for rosysunbeam. They didn’t seem to be meant as vicious commentaries on anyone’s relationship with their mother but as general “break up and move on, already’s.”

But yeah, @293 IPJ and @294 nocutename.

297
@279
I mention gay marriage because you seem to imply that the entire discussion is because silly women want marriage for all the wedding fluff and there's no other reason anyone would want to marry. I named those reasons.

You started with the garbage flinging and the fake all-men-are-victims BS by the way. If you didn't imply that ALL WOMEN EVERYWHERE ARE EVIL MONSTERS looking to subjugate poor men...

What you say about different people having different priorities and worldviews is totally correct, except that it doesn't mean that two people with opposing priorities should stay in a relationship however much their differences should be respected. That's why many people here mentioned couples where both partners don't care about marriage and it's not a problem.
298
One of my favorite SL letters was from the guy (he was a lawyer) whose girlfriend had broken up with him, but he didn't feel the reasons she'd given were adequate. He wanted Dan to rule on whether they actually were broken up or not, so he could tell her. (His arguments alone hadn't worked, mysteriously.)

This usually illustrates the position "we're not broken up until my allegedly-former partner has given reasons that hold up under cross." But a reason he gave for obviously not breaking up was that then they would each have to go find other people to date, which is obviously a huge pain. (Oddly, this argument hadn't work on his former girlfriend, either.)

I think some stringing along stuff comes from this reluctance to get out there and look for a new partner, or to be alone.
300
@294: "What is disturbing to me is how quickly, in the guise of channeling the typical 28-year-old man's presumed attitude, you, adz, and LateBloomer resort to using inflamatory language, accusing the women on this thread of displaying misandry."

To which post(s) of mine are you referring, exactly?

I'll freely admit that I think women IN GENERAL are fairly prone to misandry -- about as much as men are prone to misogyny. Whether the consequences are the same is another issue, but I've never been convinced that men hate women more than women hate men -- or that we should treat man-haters with more sympathy, or less contempt, than woman-haters.

I'll also admit that certain posters' style and attitude strongly suggest they think men should basically STFU -- and that men's feelings are, because of women's continued oppression, essentially irrelevant (let alone the question of whether men have the right to critique or object to women's behavior, or should just be shouted down with that enlightened battlecry of the bourgeoise, "OH NO WHAT ABOUT THE MENS"). But hey, that's between them and their therapist, I guess.
301
Hi again everyone-

I'm not sure what more I could offer. I already give him everything. I want to get married- I'm not concerned with a fairy tale proposal, which was the focus of my letter because usually that is the precursor to getting married.

Currently I'm his fake wife. I'm not sure what I could do different except take that away from him, but if that's the push it needs should I really be with him anyway?

Also- let's get clear on why I want to get married. I want more than just his word that he is in this with me for better or worse and all those other vows. Before we do anything serious like having children I want an action proving that it's more than words to him. Words are easy- I need some actions.

On the other side of the coin, what another commenter said above is that he doesn't feel like he needs a piece of paper to validate our commitment. He's here everyday, loves me, takes care of me, treats me well. I also think he wants the things he tells me he wants, but to him it's much further away in his mind.

It's been great getting the het male POV! And interesting to see how other peoples reactions and advice <3
302
@300: Going back and looking over the posts I realize that it's mostly Eudaemonic's I am referring to.
It was kind of jarring to go back and find the non-bold comments. They seemed so umemphatic.

And exactly which posts suggest that men should SFTU, and do you mean in relation to this letter/issue, or generally and all the time?
303
@301: Fair enough, but (to play devil's advocate a bit) how will getting him to agree to a legal formality keep him from walking out on you when things get tough, if that's what he wants to do? Getting married is basically a trivial action, in terms of the effort required, and it doesn't give you the power to keep him from leaving.

I'd think that the thing that proves it's "more than words" is right here:

"He's here everyday, loves me, takes care of me, treats me well."

Those things are what take time, effort. Getting married really doesn't. (Having a wedding does, but that's a separate issue.)

I don't fault you for wanting to get married before having kids, but otherwise, why is it that you (seem to) value the legal recognition of your partnership more than the partnership itself?
304
@301: If that's the push it needs should I really be with him anyway?
Probably not. If you'd just wished at him that he'd propose, I'd think differently, but you've talked about it and gotten the "one day, we can't know when, I'll wake up feeling differently" answer. And he's had time to think about it. "Gosh. I don't know yet," is a reasonable answer to many questions, but once your partner has some time to think about it and talk more with you about concerns and subquestions... as others have said, I think you know what his answer is.

I want more than just his word that he is in this with me for better or worse and all those other vows, before we do anything serious like having children.
I totally get this. If you're in it for good, then adding a piece of paper that puts some legal weight behind that promise shouldn't be a big deal.

He doesn't feel like he needs a piece of paper to validate our commitment.
Important to you, minor to him, that's supposed to break your way. If it doesn't, his actions are telling you that not having that piece of paper is very, very important to him, whatever his words about how it's minor.
305
Trying to help.
306
@302: I don't think men are told to shut up at any point in 300 posts.

@303: Is it really so unusual to have a one-time bf/gf who was a good person, treated you kindly, was there for you when you needed them, but ultimately you couldn't make it work and separated? That people break up doesn't mean their partner was a terrible choice or a monster, just that they couldn't make it work long-term. Before signing on for long-term, life-altering things, most people want some assurance that their partner truly is committed to that long-term future, through the inevitable tough times. When those come, you need a bank of good to fall back on (a theme at SL lately), and the willingness to put legal oomph in those promises is one sign that you believe in that good, and in your future together.

Plus if you're on vacation and one of you has a stroke, the other is not saying "Gosh darn it in another state/country I have some complex legal documents that say I should be making the medical decisions" but "I'm the spouse, yes."
307
@301: I'm not sure what more I could offer. I already give him everything. I want to get married This, to me, is disturbing because it suggests that you (and maybe he) view his agreeing to marry you as some sort of reward for all that you've done for him. Like: "I've done everything I can think of to earn his proposal, and it's still not forthcoming."

What you can offer is yourself. You've already done that. You don't have to trade him anything for the "gift" of his willingness to marry you. If you love him, you want to do what makes him happy. You've told him what you want. It's not a trifle; it's a hugely important deal--to both of you. (And that whole "piece of paper" thing is a straw man. Legal marriage gives both parties rights, privileges, and responsibilities that have nothing to do with being there every day, loving each other, and taking care of each other. Furthermore, as several people have testified, even some of the biggest Devil's Advocates, having that "piece of paper" did indeed make a difference to them--a surprising difference.)

It's not just a big deal to you; it's obviously a big deal to him, too. Unless he's been planning a surprise holiday proposal, I think it's fair to say that it's a big deal in complete opposition to your big deal. That is, you want it very much and he very much doesn't want it.

It's not as if he doesn't know how important this is to you. Or maybe he doesn't. In fact he's asked what you will do if he fails you with regards to the commitment and you said you didn't know. He asked if you'd leave and you said you'd be unhappy. Well, he's obviously okay with you being unhappy. That's not motivation enough for him to do this thing he doesn't want to do.

You really can't and shouldn't try to force him. He might do it if you leave, but do you want that proposal? Maybe. As several men here have pointed out, sometimes some people (frequently men) need that push and once the decision is made, they're happy with it. But it comes with its own set of problems.

I think you owe it to him and yourself to have a true, honest, straightforward conversation. I'm not sure you have. He asked you several direct questions about what you'd do if he didn't come through and you gave him answers that, while perhaps true (you really don't know what you'll do) failed to convey how important this is to you. If he comes back with his vague timeline, call him on it. Tell him that that doesn't work for you. Be prepared to hear something you don't want to hear and be prepared to follow through on whatever it is you tell him you are going to do. Or don't, but then you have to accept that you've turned all the power over your future over to someone else to control.