Savage Love

Women on the Verge

Comments

1
Emetophilia. OK. That's right up there with poop as "a kink too far". I'd rather not know that it exists. And I suspect, as does Dan, that LW 1's husband feels the same.
2
In light of the health risks—and the fact that I'm married—this would be a one-time thing. Do I have to tell my husband? I don't want to have sex with this person; I just want to live out my fantasy for one night, which doesn't necessarily involve getting naked.
This is how people talk themselves into affairs. "It's just for one night," "this will be a one-time thing," etc. But after you scratch that kink, you'll be saying "well, I already cheated anyway" and "he didn't find out last time." If you were willing to risk blowing up your marriage for an orgasm once, then why not a second time? Then a third time, a fourth time, etc.?

Tread carefully.
3
I eagerly await the day when girls proposing to dudes is just as common as vice versa (I'm a girl who proposed to her dude, ring and all, 5 years ago). I asked him out when we started dating 5 years before that, too. So get on it, RINGS!
4
I'm sure there's someone here who can speak authoritatively on this subject, but there must be an opera based on HMP"s life, right?
5
RINGS-- Assuming you propose, and assuming your boyfriend says "yes, but let's not set a date just yet," and assuming he never wants to set a date because he likes things the way they are, and assuming he doesn't want to talk about a timeline for the house, the children, the shared finances, the commitment to take care of each other when you're sick or facing hard times, ARE YOU WILLING TO WALK AWAY? Because if you're not, save yourself the trouble of the proposal. Better yet, get your ducks in a row to leave town for that better academic position and present him with the fact that you're leaving unless he gets on the same page.
6
My boyfriend is dragging his feet on proposing.

The reason men evolved to place such a high priority on sex is so that they can be easily manipulated by women. So start manipulating him.
7
@4: Certainly doesn't sound like she'd be interested in a low drama partner, for sure. I don't understand what she's wanting, beyond more abuse. He's pretty honest about not giving a fuck about her, even if beyond stating that they have no future directly, a better person would just break things off for good.

@3: Yes! Too many friends get into these silly situations where the woman expects the man to propose first and all the bullshit expectations and ritual gets the guy scared to wait for the "perfect memorable" time to do so, feeling pressure to impress her and the friends, have a "story" to tell, ugh. Beat him to the punch! If he gets mad at your bravado, he isn't the right guy for you.
7
"I understand the sexual appeal of a man who treats you like shit"
well, that makes one of us.
8
@7: Some people irrespective of gender love the highs and lows of being used up and thrown in the dumpster.
9
LW1-
“But recently, on a whim, I posted a message on a kink site”
" on a whim," ha?

“In light of the health risks—and the fact that I'm married—this would be a one-time thing.”
Usually life-long kinks don’t disappear magically after you finally have a first time real-life experience. If anything, you realize there are more who are interested in your life-long shameful secret, it’s no longer that shameful, and your appetite grows stronger.
First time experiences can also be disappointing for many reasons, making you yearn for better ones.

My advice: tell your husband despite of the possible shame, secretive kinks often seem way more shameful then they really are. He may realize how much it means to you and find ways to accommodating.
The 3-somes you mentioned- if they were his initiative and he likes them then nothing wrong in bringing those up in a frank conversation to get your point across.

Make it hypothetical, don’t tell him you already found a willing partner, just say you really want to do that with a real person and it looks like there are others into this kink if he’s not interested.
10
@8 Undead,
true. I have seen it happen frequently but never seen someone recognize it openly. I've heard "I love x even though x treats me like shit", but never "I love x because x treats me like shit". which doesn't mean it doesn't apply, it just means that for most people it's something unconscious (they don't realize that being abused is what turns them on) or deliberated but not willing to admit it (they know but don't want to say it).
And I still don't relate to it in either way, but I guess I can understand it when I see it as a kink of some sort than trying to understand it from the "star-crossed lovers" point of view.
11
@8: Yes, there's the love of "the highs and lows of being used up and thrown in the dumpster..." but also of writing one-handed missives to syndicated columnists that don't even come in the form of a question.
12
How in the world do you bring up marriage without proposing? I see this written about frequently, some letter in which the woman will say something like "I keep bringing up marriage but he won't propose".
Isn't bringing up marriage proposing? Or is it just some sort of silly hinting. After three years, surely you can tell someone: " I love you madly! I wan't to spend my life with you! Will you marry me?"
13
@10: I don't think it's unconscious at all, I think it's a matter of framing. It doesn't usually take much probing to get the person to admit that they're getting mistreated or that they should leave the person. You'll sadly get a number of reasons why they "just can't" for whatever reason, usually involving the need for closure from someone who will do anything but actively dump them in whatever manner they seek.
14
@12: If only talking about marriage among mutual partners was enough and there wasn't the stupid expectation for grandeur and spectacle. And to that, only the man's "duty". There's a lot of cargo cult involved in the institution that's best left to history alongside "chivalry" and other cultural detritus.
15
DeirdresTours @12 "How in the world do you bring up marriage without proposing?"

It's like letting someone know you think they're hot, but then waiting to see if they initiate anything, rather than asking them straight out: "wanna fuck?"

I wanted him to want to marry me, so I let him know that I would say yes, and then I gave him time to make up his mind.
16
@2 +1
17
12-- Right. Bringing up marriage IS proposing, and the answer is No. No, I don't want to get married, don't want to think about the next step, don't want to commit to the mortgage and the kids. I like things the way they've been these past few years. But the woman doing the asking doesn't want to face the fact that she's been turned down. She thinks if she keeps doing what she's been doing-- waiting, hoping and hinting-- she'll get a different result, that something will happen, that some magic amount of time will go by, and suddenly her boyfriend will wake up and want the marriage, the commitment, the house, the mortgage, the 2.3 children, and the white picket fence. I'm the sort of optimist who thinks it could happen. I'm also the sort of realist who think that if it was going to happen, it would have already.

RINGS would do well to look at her choices. She can accept the fact that this guy has said no and stay in the situation that sounds pretty good. She can deliver an ultimatum with the hope that he'll come around. He might. If he doesn't, she can walk away with the knowledge she might never find a guy she likes nearly so well. Or she can move to that other city and meet the guy she will marry almost immediately. If I could predict the future, I wouldn't be sitting around typing in comments columns, but I'm banking on this relationship being at a dead end.
18
@13 Undead,
oh yes, the dreaded-and-all too-familiar "I can't dump x while things are shitty, I need to make sure everything is peachy and all problems between us are solved before we break up". And of course then they won't leave, because "everything is going great now".
19
Proposal--LW, this guy knows what you want. He's too chicken to break it off. Don't propose--he'll say yes to avoid a fight and it will be as Fichu says @5, dragging his feet on everything after the proposal, too. You already know you should be job searching, not hanging on--so go do it. Best of luck!
20
Dan's answer said "kidney dish list" huh? urbandictionary draws a blank. as does Google. Am I being dumb? Does anyone get what this is and how it's a synonym for bucket list?
21
@20: Think of it as a puke-bucket list.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kidney_d…
22
Dragging his feet.. Where are we, the 50s? And she's an acedemic.
LW, if you've brought up the issue and he hasn't picked up on it,
that means;
He's Not Ready To Commit.
You've just got to make your decisions based on that knowledge.
23
LW1: Dear internet, here is a detailed description of my unusual kink.
Internet person: Oh hey me too, all those words you said are *exactly* my thing too wow what are the odds let's hook up now.

Also, in her fantasy they don't (necessarily) get naked and they do get off, so are they coming in their pants or what.
24
Urban Dictionary says - emetophile - buy the mug! Ha, ha, ewww. I second #2 - ALEMHM is sliding down a slippery slope.

HMP - drama queen with a fetish for being treated like shit. How exactly do you "lose" someone you only see 3 times a year? What are you doing the other 46 weeks per year?

RINGS - Hey commentariat - I am curious - how long do you think people should date before it's reasonable to propose making a commitment of some kind? Two years? To what degree does it depend on the circumstances (e.g. age, life goals, incomes, child issues, etc.) of the couple?
25
Ankylosaurus @ 23
Yes, she sure sounds like a rookie on many fronts. This is another reason why I think she should tell her husband.
26
Still Thinking @ 24
Q:“how long do you think people should date before it's reasonable to propose making a commitment of some kind? Two years?”
A: I’d say around that time frame.

Q: “To what degree does it depend on the circumstances (e.g. age, life goals, incomes, child issues, etc.) of the couple?”
A: I’d say still around that time frame, but as any good lawyer or accountant would tell you, “It all depends.”
27
How do you talk about marriage without proposing? Oh, that's easy! You talk in hypotheticals and in distant-future terms and stuff like that. Five years before we got married, my now-husband asked if I ever thought I'd get married someday. I'm bi, and at the time, gay marriage was illegal. So I said, "Well, the law won't LET me marry a woman, and I don't want to marry a man, because then he'd think he owned me."

Five years later, I'd finally figured out that I was with a man who would try to own me, so *I* proposed to him. Both of us were more comfortable that way, anyway; I've always been the more assertive one, and he's always been kinda sweet and shy. It works for us. :-)
28
Oops, typo. Obviously, that should have been "who wouldN'T try to own me."
29
Still Thinking @24, they should date until they feel confident they each know the other person well (including their flaws), and they are starting to feel committed internally.
30
@27, that's so sweet. (The typo was sorta obvious).
31
You guys are really doing a lot of assuming about what RINGS' boyfriend thinks. It does not sound like she is saying what she means: it sounds like she is hinting. I am quite capable of missing the broadest hints, and while I am probably extreme in my ability to miss obvious hints, I am reasonably sure I am not the only man who misses what women think are obvious hints. She should ask him, directly, as Dan says.
32
Perhaps, old crow. Men have been known to not hear.
I just don't buy it. If she has hinted at marriage and he didn't hear, it may be because he didn't want to.
Still; people should get married when neither has to hint about it.
33
HMP - I was like you for a long, long time. Not the cancer part, thankfully, but the "in love with an unavailable man who treats you badly and disrespects you" part. I even had a name for it. Based on my Sunday school remembrances, I would recognize the signs in myself of "throwing pearls before swine". Even once I recognized that for what it was, I still could not cure myself. As Dan suggested, I had to get into therapy. For many years, I grappled with issues of feeling used and manipulated by my parents for their own ends. I was a parentified child with a needy, alcoholic mother, and my father was a womanizer who openly flaunted his oogling women in front of the kids, plus the fact that he set up his temporary offices in whorehouses around the world in his work as an international businessman. I was primed by these early experiences to romanticize that deep feeling of disrespect and being used. It was the space I felt the most comfortable in. I had to get middle aged and begin to feel my own mortality before I realized that none of these crummy guys I dated could be counted on to assist me in my old age, should I need it. The emotional distance I kept was also taking it's toll on me in the form of loneliness and constant despair. After 20 years of therapy on this issue, I finally felt ready to emotionally let go of the hope that my father (who was dead by that point, but it didn't matter to my unconscious,) would somehow bridge the emotional distance between us and love me. When I felt psychically ready for that funeral to out to rest those hopes, things started to change for me. Once ready to date in earnest, I faced a dating scene unkind to middle aged, still-unmarried women. Most of the desirable men I met dated women 10 years their junior. After an online dating slog of 2 years, I beat the depressing odds (that never-married middle-aged women are as likely to get married as to get struck by lightning,) and found the love of my life on OKCupid. He was a 99% match with me, but to get that accuracy he had to answer 1,000 questions and I answered 800. It was worth the effort. I married for the first time at the age of 51 and couldn't be happier. I am so grateful . I still struggle with an inner aversion to my husband's healthy sexual attraction for me, because I want to be the one doing the pursuing, since it feels more "in control". But that's mild, and I've learned to observe myself doing it and remember I am safe & don't always need control. I hope this helps you. Don't allow much time to go by grieving for this guy because life is short - as you now know all too well. I wish you much peace and love as you deal with what we hope is only a health scare, not a crisis.
34
Traveler; lovely outcome. Thank you for sharing that.
35
IHSN @2: You're right, and I bet this was the exact thing that was going through the Craigslist Cheater's mind as she pondered whether to answer that ad...

CMD @9: Your advice is far better than Dan's. I wonder if this is the place where potential cheaters come to ask permission because they know they're going to get it. What happened to lying as a last resort?

However, Dan does get kudos for answering RINGS's vomit-inducing (to tie the threads together) 1950s question. "Dragging his feet on proposing"? How about "he is fine with not being married"? I just can't understand how for some people a ring and a changed name is more important than the human being they supposedly love. If you "talk about your future a lot", you've talk about whether you want marriage. If you both do, great. Set a date. Stop being a goddamn girl about it.
36
ALEMHM should get a part-time job in a bar frequented by college students. She'd get to realise her vomit-nurse fantasies all the time then.
37
Still @24: Five years.

Undead @8/9etc: Some people are drawn to abusers because people who are nice to them are boring.
38
Hi RINGS - My advice as a former dragger of feet.....

Mrs. Horton and I were same demographic and ages that you were. Dating 4 years, approaching 30. Living together. Honestly, marriage never really crossed my mind. Sure, I figured it was something I would do at some point, the same way kids entering college know they will, one day, have to get a job in the real world.

One day, Mrs. Horton told me in no uncertain terms that she wanted to get married and have kids. And wanted that to be with me. But, if I didn't want that, either with her or with anyone, she needed to know so she could go out and find it. I am paraphrasing, of course.

It made me take an inventory of things, and a conscious decision to propose and get married. We have a cool engagement story.

I don't think you should propose. You describe yourself as a boring white girl, i.e. traditional, and there is nothing wrong with wanting things to be traditional. I think you would be resentful if you proposed, and would not be particularly proud to tell your story. Plus, you may have lingering doubt if marriage to you is what he really wanted, or he was just caught on the spot and said yes.

I think you should push this issue, with some type of similar, honest conversation about what you want out of life and a timeframe for it. I know several fantastic women, total catches, who ended up single and/or childless because they wasted their 20s and early 30s in a dead-end relationship with a man who never proposed. Of course, the ex-boyfriend was married with kids a year or two after the break-up. The singles dating market shifts dramatically when people hit their 30s. (Obvious disclaimer - there is nothing wrong with being single and childless if that is what you want. It actually sounds appealing to plenty of married with children folks, from time to time).
39
bdf @35
I just can't understand how for some people a ring and a changed name is more important than the human being they supposedly love.

Me too. Sometimes it seems like a "marriage fetish" to me. As if the marriage itself is the point, not the person they are marrying. Evidenced by the fact that "not proposing" is apparently a valid reason to break off an otherwise great relationship of many years to go find someone else who will propose to you.
40
@38: "I don't think you should propose. You describe yourself as a boring white girl, i.e. traditional, and there is nothing wrong with wanting things to be traditional. I think you would be resentful if you proposed, and would not be particularly proud to tell your story"

That sounds rather assumptive and giving into the expectation that the guy proposes every time, that he'll be dissuaded if she does, and that the marriage will not last because of that.

You're giving that "traditional" garbage far more respect than it deserves. Sure the LW has expectations, and she deserves the best and a serious partner. These gestures do not guarantee a serious partner, and it's rather insulting to suggest that their "story" would be inferior simply by her taking the initiative.
41
@39, 38 answers you. A lot of relationships are good enough to continue but not enough to progress (to having children, home ownership, etc.). If a woman wants children, and the relationship isn't going to progress, she needs to beat feet. If not, then okay fine.

Also, marriage confers huge legal and financial privileges. That's why gay people wanted it! It's not a fetish to want more security (or kids).
42
Fresh @41: Not to pick on poor Tim here, but you might want to read his posts on "The Eternal Question" to see how well the "traditional" route worked out for him.

Marriage confers huge legal and financial responsibilities, too. I know more than one person whose spouse was able to bankrupt them due to their being married -- and that's just in my own family. Then there's the old joke, "Why is divorce so expensive? Because it's worth it."

Joint home ownership (a more serious commitment than marriage, in my experience) and kids (the biggest commitment of all) are possible without marriage. I just think a lot of people are being wrongheaded in setting a goal of "I want to get married, and I'm not as bothered about whether it's to the right person" versus "I want to meet the right person, and I'm not as bothered about whether we have an expensive party." As evidenced by divorce rates.
43
@41: " It's not a fetish to want more security (or kids)."

That's not what they're referring to, they're referring to the cargo culty "if the man doesn't ask, the woman will be unhappy with the marriage and the man will not take the marriage seriously and both will be disappointed forever" which has nothing to do with the final partnership and everything to do with "traditional" framing.

As BiDanFan mentions in @42, overemphasis on ritual (specifically the ceremony costs) usually has a counter-effect on the longevity. He should be serious, of course, but why not both talk about it seriously rather than make his proposal the pain point of the process?
44
People do like to get married before they have children. A woman is wise to want one before the other.
interesting perspective, Tim. I wouldn't be so quick to discount his interpretation, undead. It is a little florid. Ever thought to write, Tim?
She did say the immortal words; dragging his feet. She's mentioned it, yet it gets nowhere. This woman is following the white picket fence script. And in that script, the man stops dragging his feet and proposes to her.
45
Fr @41
A lot of relationships are good enough to continue but not enough to progress (to having children, home ownership, etc.). If a woman wants children, and the relationship isn't going to progress, she needs to beat feet.

I know more than one couple with a home and children who have been together for decades, yet are not married. At least where I live, marrriage is not necessary for the "progress" you mention. Perhaps things are different in the US (or vary by state -- I don't know).
46
So RINGS was written by Charlotte York, and HMP was written by Carrie Bradshaw and Samantha Jones. Was that intentional, Dan?
47
I also sleep with men - well, one man, these days - and I do NOT understand the sexual appeal of a man, or anyone else, who treats you like shit.
48
@45: Yes, here there are very useful protections provided by an on-the-books "marriage" that encourage persons to still get involved in the process, even if all the other cruft is unnecessary-to-regressive. Those protesting the institution are understandable, but do so at their own potential expense. Divestment doesn't change legal precedent.

@47: I suppose that's what therapy is for, so that they can understand why the LW's guy seems so "wonderful otherwise" when he's not wonderful at all.
49
@42 - no offense taken (I felt that coming as I was typing). In fairness, there is a lot about my marriage that is fantastic, of course. I don't think marriage is my "problem", so much as monogamy, which isn't just my problem, it affects many/most people in long-term monogamous marriages - Savage has built his success on highlighting the tension and, often, misery caused by the mixing and strict adherence of monogamy to marriage (as he writes from Ann Landers' desk).

Rest assured that if RINGS were asking Savage about the wisdom of including strict monogamy on her wedding vows, I would have told her a story about camels.

50
Oops, I was thinking of Failing Chemistry with that last one. HMP is the one who thinks she's his lover when she's one of many lovers he takes. She could also use some solo time and a therapist, as he's not going to be there when health declines, he already doesn't have time for her as is.
51
"One day, Mrs. Horton told me in no uncertain terms that she wanted to get married and have kids. And wanted that to be with me. But, if I didn't want that, either with her or with anyone, she needed to know so she could go out and find it. I am paraphrasing, of course."

That's actually a "proposal." The fact that you and she didn't recognize it as one and that you had to be the one to offer a formal proposal is just ... Weird.

It's almost as if the two of you had a subtle agreement that she had no real agency in this matter and that it only "counted" when you were the one doing the proposing.
52
@51: Exactly! Which makes all the tut-tutting about how the LW shouldn't take any further steps all the more ridiculous.

It's a mutual decision, it should involve serious talk, all this focus on "popping the question" is a sad artifact.
53
Tim @49: If this LW is so "old-fashioned" that she will be embarrassed to tell her kids or friends, "Actually, I asked him to marry me! He was thrilled! Aren't we so modern?", as you assume, I highly doubt she will allow anything other than monogamy. People who want an old-fashioned proposal also want an old-fashioned marriage.
The kind where once a week, she lies back and thinks of England.
And agree with FirstTime and Ayn -- What is stating to your partner that you would like to marry them if not a marriage proposal?
54
I have a friend who told her cohabitant male companion that she would give him one year to decide, and gave him her reasons, especially the condo in his name only, and her age. He proposed in less than a year, and they have now been married 19 years. Keep in mind, RINGS, the responsibilities go both ways. Are you willing to pay him spousal support if he stops working and you want out?
55
@38
"I don't think you should propose. You describe yourself as a boring white girl, i.e. traditional, and there is nothing wrong with wanting things to be traditional. I think you would be resentful if you proposed, and would not be particularly proud to tell your story. Plus, you may have lingering doubt if marriage to you is what he really wanted, or he was just caught on the spot and said yes."

I know I've already addressed this and this is probably overkill but this really bugs me. You described a situation in which your wife had to prod you into proposing when you hadn't even really given it any serious thought. I wonder why you can't see the parallels between what you said to the LW and what you described as your own situation.

Do you think your wife is "particularly proud" to tell that story? Why wouldn't you suppose she felt "lingering doubts" about whether you really wanted to get married when she was the one who had to push for it? Just because in the end you have a "cool" engagement story?

56
@55: And shouldn't someone be proud to tell the story that exists, versus telling others what you think they want to hear?

Romance is awesome, but I prefer it of the small, private, between the both of you variety where you'll have wonderful stories before and after the "Big Moment" and you won't obsess over these odd moments of grandiosity just like someone's mom might call senior prom the "most important moment of her life". It's just not important enough to devote so much misplaced effort on, and why not spend effort on actually being a partnership versus what other people might think of "your story"?

It exists for you to tell it, and you tell it how it makes you happy. Not to be some nervous wreck because it didn't happen exactly as the movies told you it should.
57
@49 "I don't think marriage is my "problem", so much as monogamy, which isn't just my problem, it affects many/most people in long-term monogamous marriages"

Sincere question: do you think you'd be having such a "problem" with monogamy if you and your wife were banging the shit out of each other at every opportunity? Did you have problems with monogamy from the start? Did that have anything to do with your not being eager to get married until your wife brought it up?

I'm sure some will think this is just semantics but I don't actually think that long-partnered people have an issue with being monogamous so much as the conditions are no longer in place for them to have the intensity of feelings towards their partner that they had in the beginning of their relationship. I think lots of people are able to be easily monogamous for many years at the beginning of a relationship. And that feeling dissipates (for a variety of reasons) and the "blame" is placed on monogamy rather than the reality that many couples feel love and compassion towards their partner, but not the requisite lust/romance/passion that happy monogamy would seem to require
58
All the talk about whether marriage is a necessary or desirable institution is really irrelevant if the person you love unequivocally wants to be married. They want what they want and you have to decide whether you're willing to give it to them or if you are so opposed to it that you let them go find it elsewhere
59
@58 In other words, if the person you love loves the institution "marriage" more than the person they are planning to marry. Fiinding "it" (marriage) is apparently the goal, who with is less important. Well, if that is what they want and I am just an interchangeable prop in their marriage fantasy, by all means they should find it elsewhere.
60
Also, all this talk is really annoying considering how hard the fight for gay marriage has been. I'm sure we've all heard stories about gay couples being denied visitation, inheritance or immigration rights, so how can anyone honestly wonder what the point of marriage is? @Registered European, here in Germany I see most people do get married before starting a family. At least in my circle.
61
As Kinky Friedman said, "I support gay marriage. I believe they have a right to be as miserable as the rest of us."
62
That is not to say that the importance of marriage has anything to do with those silly rituals. I don't have a proposal story, or in fact a wedding story either. Recently I was surprised to find out people actually buy new shoes for their weddings. But I waited for my husband to propose (we needed it for visa reasons) because I knew he was the one with bigger commitment issues.
63
@61 that is, perhaps, to the point.
64
L2 - She wants the advantages of receiving the proposal without the disadvantages of the traditionalist position, which makes me prefer LW1 to her. As Ms Cute will doubtless recall, Henry Tilney informs traditionalists that, in either matrimony or dancing, man has the advantage of choice and woman only the power of refusal.

Perhaps she is so attached to traditional gendre roles that she requires a partner with the matching kink for a good match. Perhaps she is content to use gendre roles when they suit her idea of advantage (it sounds as if he perhaps does as well), in which case they should be forced to wed tomorrow so that neither of them will marry anybody else. Perhaps she just really, really wants the rock, and will go through every excuse in the book and back before admitting it.
65
L1 - We don't know whether the signature was LW's idea or the staff's. And this may irritate a good many people, but words really ought to have *some* meaning. There may be some circumstances under which a lady would cheat on her spouse (or a gentleman on his, for that matter), but the circumstances of this letter aren't they.

I remind the assembled company of The Murder at the Vicarage, in which Inspector Slack propounds a theory that Mrs Lestrange's call on Colonel Protheroe the evening before his death was in purpose of blackmail. Despite not believing Mrs Lestrange incapable of murder, Reverend Clement dismisses the blackmail idea at once because she's a lady.
66
I don't really understand proposals, no matter who's doing it. It makes more sense to me for the people involved to have a discussion, or a sequence of discussions, about what they expect from a marriage, what the point of marrying or not might be, and eventually come to some conclusion together. That's how every other topic is supposed to work. Why is this one--a major one--so different?

And while we're bitching--I *really* don't understand diamond engagement rings. Great, the diamond industry sat down and came up with an awesome marketing campaign some years ago, and now we all have to spend n months salary on a rock? Such. utter. bullshit.

I will take this moment *not* to rant about weddings, too. But I could. I totally could.
67
@66: "Why is this one--a major one--so different?"

Expectations. The expectations of a person to what ther friends might think, and the expectation of a "friend" to push someone towards something that the friend can coo over?

I'll always republish http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/arch…

A quasi-religious indoctrination, little more.
68
People want to feel valued, loved, and respected by their partners, especially if they love, value, and respect those partners, themselves. Having to force or nag a proposal or using an ultimatum to achieve one may not lead to the feeling that it was sincerely offered, and may transfer into a feeling that the other person doesn't really value the proposal/marriage-craving one as much.

On the other hand, it seems that it is typical for some people (I'm going to generalize and appear to revert to gender essentializing here, but we are speaking in generalities. YMMV. #notallmen/#notallwomen/#thisisaheteronormativeconstruction) to not really have put any thought into marriage, if things are going along swimmingly, but to have no objection to it. And there are also people--typically men--who have a fear and dread of it, of being "tied down" or "trapped" by monogamy, which for many of us, is still what "marriage" looks like or we think it is supposed to be. A lot of those men turn out to take to marriage, and even monogamy, too, some of them, like ducks to water and only needed a slight push. My ex was one of them. Some men really, truly do not want to get married. To anyone. Some men (and women, of course) appear to not want to get married to anyone, and the relationship breaks up, and lo and behold, two years later, are married to someone else. Which can be galling to the one who wanted to be married and was told that everything was "fine" without marriage.

Only each of us can determine for ourselves how much being married means to us. Only each of us can figure out how important it is that we be proposed to, rather than have to do the proposing. Most of us have a hard time knowing the true feelings of the partner who is hesitant to propose or to marry; oftentimes, that hesitant or unwilling partner can't articulate his motivation/thoughts to himself, let alone his partner, or he is afraid to do so. Understanding why a particular letter writer's boyfriend is reluctant to give her the proposal she wants is beyond our ken as commenters.

RINGS needs to sort out for herself what is really the issue here: does she want to be married; does she want to marry her boyfriend; does she want to be proposed to because she is old-fashioned and traditional, and the idea of the proposal is in itself meaningful; does she want to be proposed to by her boyfriend; does she want to be proposed to by her boyfriend without prompting or nagging so she knows he truly wants her as she wants to be wanted by him?

Several of these things may overlap, and more than one can coexist, but they are all different and some of them require different actions on her part.

As for the "good story" to have about your engagement: any experience can be tweaked to provide a good story for purposes of eliciting either a sentimental "aww" reaction or a good laugh later. There's no such thing as an engagement story that isn't "good," depending how you define "good" and your skills as a story-teller.

I know women that nagged boyfriends into proposing. Some of those marriages were/have been/are great and successful; some of them were not and have ended. Some of those guys really didn't want to be married to anyone after all. Some of them really weren't as in love with the women. I know women who have done the proposing or issued ultimatums; I know couples who broke up because one wanted marriage and the other didn't, and some of those people re-partnered with people who were really better for them, and some of them never found anyone they clicked with as well and regretted the ultimatum/breakup approach; and I know couples who broke up because one wanted marriage and the other didn't, and never found anyone they clicked with as well, and still think they did what was right for them.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer.

HOWEVER, RINGS is an academic and about to be on the job market and getting a good job in academia is a difficult thing to do. Husband or not, proposal-coming-from-him-or-her, she should most definitely NOT give up a job opportunity hoping for some action from her boyfriend that may not come or may only come in a way that makes her anxious and unsure of his commitment to her or his feelings for her. Focus on your academic career, RINGS, and let your engagement/proposal fantasy and your marriage incorporate your career needs.
69
@68--oops, I thought RINGS was entering the job market for the first time. Regardless, the advice about prioritizing her career stands.
70
ALEMHM should talk about the possibility of meeting up with a fellow enthusiast with her husband, being sure to emphasize the non-nudity/no sexual touch, but also the element of sexual thrill. Otherwise, having an encounter with a sexual component that you keep secret from your spouse, even if your spouse is not interested in playing with or incorporating your fetish and even if your marriage hasn't been strictly monogamous, is cheating.

Odds are high that her husband will be relieved to outsource this interest as long as he is aware of it and they set parameters and limits she respects. If they have had threeways, he may not see this as a threat to her love and commitment and their marriage, but he needs to be informed.
71
HEMP: This man is as toxic to you as anything going on in your lymph nodes.
Please, whether sick or healthy, give yourself the love and self-respect to walk away from him and leave yourself open to someone who values you and who treats you decently.
I hope the lymph gland issue is treatable and that you respond excellently to treatment and live a long and happy life, surrounded by true friends and people who genuinely care about you. That caring starts from within.

Good luck!
72
@68: "As for the "good story" to have about your engagement: any experience can be tweaked to provide a good story for purposes of eliciting either a sentimental "aww" reaction or a good laugh later. There's no such thing as an engagement story that isn't "good," depending how you define "good" and your skills as a story-teller."

So sad that people commonly alter their life to match a narrative versus defining your own "story", but not really surprising either.
73
@66. Ciods. Yes. The actuality of marriage over time with children demands an aspect of practicality, which the romance industry in our heads doesn't want to know about.
Talking marriage, as a real place both people want to go to, together. Then someone proposes.
74
I don't understand the concept of an "engagement story". Is that the story of what exactly happened during the proposal?
75
@57 - of course, monogamy would be easier if I were banging the missus like a screen door in a hurricane. Although even back in the frequent sex days, there was always strong temptation. Easier, yes. Easy, no.

NoCute @68 covered what I would say if I had good organizational structure and could type more than 9 words per minute. I will add that I don't think its odd for one person to want a life milestone earlier than their partner, nor do I see it as a sign of settling or disconnect. Often, the question of who "wins" comes down to who it is more important to. In my situation, it wasn't that I didn't want to marry Mrs. Horton, but that it had never occurred to me it was something I wanted now. Like kids - it's important to you to do that before age 35? Ok, count me in.

I made the assumption RINGS was traditional-minded because she wanted the traditional engagement-marriage story. But I absolutely agree that she should want that because its what makes her boat float. Just as no one should live their life because its what society expects, neither should they deny themselves what they want because its conformist. For me, I would have felt emasculated if my wife proposed to me, if I was a stay-at-home dad, or couldn't skate backwards.

Chacon a son gout, as I learned in French class.
76
And these practical marriage discussions, the ones a couple has before a proposal, could include some hard looks at the picture of going down the marriage/ children path.
Maybe they read SL, if so, they couldn't have failed to hear stories from the Family Front Line.
They ask each other, how they would play certain scenarios that come up here, check out each other's response. Work together to try to avoid certain pitfalls that marriage/ children seem to bring to a sizeable no of people.
My own story was the blind leading the blind. Now, I would do it all very different. Much more cool headed.
77
@72: undead, I didn't mean that people should tailor their lives to fit their stories; I meant that any life experience can yield a "good story" depending on the way you frame it as a story--to yourself and to others, both.
78
Can you skate backwards, Tim. That is a pretty good skill to have.
And nice to see you standing by your woman.
Yes, these rituals mean different things to all of us. And respecting that difference, while recognising the whole romance side of marriage is a little starry eyed. White dress one day, kid sucking on a tit a year later.
79
I'm having trouble figuring out how it's the husband's responsibility to 'bring it up' (pun intended?) again.

How was it left? Was there any discussion of maybe someday fulfilling this kink?

Given you're monogamish I'd err on the side of telling him. You'll be able to enjoy yourself much more knowing you're not cheating (unless that's part of the thrill, but it doesn't seem so.) If telling him about it once (and much earlier in your relationship) didn't make him run then, a reminder, welcome or not, might not.

Trust him--he deserves that much. If you can work out the threesomes and still be strong together, you can work this out.
80
BiDanFan @42 >> I just think a lot of people are being wrongheaded in setting a goal of "I want to get married, and I'm not as bothered about whether it's to the right person" versus "I want to meet the right person, and I'm not as bothered about whether we have an expensive party." >>

For me, it was more like this: "I want to have kids with someone who is planning on being around for the long term. I believe you're the right person, but I don't get to make that choice for you. I don't care about an expensive party, but I want to know that you think of me as the right person too, and the way one indicates that is with a public statement of seriousness. In our culture, that means announcing our engagement. Figure out if you want to marry me. If so, then ask me, and I'll say yes. And then we'll tell our families."

Since he didn't yet know if he wanted to marry me, it would have been awkward for me to propose:

Me: "Will you marry me?"
Him: "Um... maybe? Let me get back to you."
Weeks go by.
Him: "Hey, remember when you asked me to marry you? The answer is yes."
Me: "Ooh, wonderful! Thanks for letting me know."

To me, that seems more awkward than waiting the same weeks for him to be ready to ask the question, and then me giving my answer right away and we get to go celebrate and share the news.
81
@77: I understood completely! I was referring to the general practice and the encouragement of the LW through other comments to do so.
82
"Since he didn't yet know if he wanted to marry me, it would have been awkward for me to propose... To me, that seems more awkward than waiting the same weeks for him to be ready to ask the question, and then me giving my answer right away and we get to go celebrate and share the news."

83
Did not mean to post #82. Sorry.
84
RINGS, if he says "yes" because he's not sure what else to do, will you be able to get out of this? That's the thing about him asking, it sets a bit higher bar on him figuring out what he really wants. (Not super high, but you have the opportunity to assess at the point when he asks. Whereas if you've already proposed it's awkward to change your mind!)

I'm just envisioning a guy who's not in touch with what's important to him. If that's not the right picture, disregard. If that is the picture, just keep in mind, no amount of commitment from you can substitute for commitment from him.
85
@84: "That's the thing about him asking, it sets a bit higher bar on him figuring out what he really wants."

Or you could, y'know actually talk about it with him instead going through these unnecessary contortions and pretending that they make someone more capable of commitment for having bothered.
86
Mtn. Beaver @84:
no amount of commitment from you can substitute for commitment from him.
Amen.
87
Yes, its dinner time in the US, but Reg Euro @ 1 is likely to be sleeping so maybe we can discuss some Emetophilia, aka vomit fetish, before they wake up on the other side of the Atlantic.

While I never heard of this one it doesn’t strike me as something really horrible. Yes, I may have a hard time achieving a hard time while puking and it’s not my thing, but I can see some scenarios that could be acceptable to some degree or another if my partner really wanted this. Something along the line of medical play- nurse uniform, examination gloves, puke bag, and so on.

I wonder if fake puke will also work. In “Shock Value” John Waters describes how he made his early movies and gives away the recipe of the stuff he made Divine, first time in a male role on screen, “throwing up” after the female Divine he raped few weeks ago calls to say she is pregnant in the 1974 classic “Female Trouble.”
I used to have the book but can’t find it now.

88
What is there to say, CMD? Will fake vomit do the trick. Who knows.
For a bit after my marriage broke up, and I was de attaching, I got into the vodka a bit. A few times, I was down the back yard, heaving. Nobody could have comforted me.
I agree with Nocute. Whichever way this LW tries to play this, it's cheating. She needs to talk to her guy and be very careful in picking
a vomit buddy.( VB).
Oh, VB, that's the name of one of our beers.
89
There may be a good deal of merit in Ms Erica's system of stating Ask Me And I'll Accept.

More or less in line with Ms Cute, I do think there are people naturally inclined to propose and people naturally inclined to receive proposals. This LW I do not include among the latter, as it would have been clear in the letter had she so belonged.

If people are willing to allow LW a Traditionalist Pass, they at least ought to make it conditional on her, as Mr Stimpson would say, Going The Whole Hog (in a manner rather backwards to Mr Stimpson's original meaning in reference to Joan Plumleigh Bruce), or at least a general adherence that would match, say, Mr Savage's definition of being "good at" monogamy. If this were the only tradition to have meaning for her and she were to try to claim traditionalism as her reason for adhering to it, I'd class her with Kim Davis.
90
I feel like I have stepped into an alternate universe in which when a woman says "I want to marry you, let me know if you want to marry me" isn't a marriage proposal. I guess for some people in heterosexual relationships, saying you want to get married and asking the other person to decide isn't really a proposal unless it's a man doing it?
And then when the man essentially gets back to her to "accept" by formally asking, it's a proposal even though he already knows her answer because she already told him her answer, in the original non-proposal, but because she didn't have a dick, asking him first didn't count? Never mind, now I've confused myself!
Last time beating this dead horse, but am I the only one who thinks that Tim Horton was proposed to by his wife (emasculating him, or not) and that EricaP actually did propose to her husband? And that if the LW has expressed her desire to her boyfriend that she would like to be married to him, she's also essentially proposed?
Oh well, whatever lol
91
FirstTimeCaller, sure these are proposals practically speaking. They communicate "I want to marry you, how about you?" But many people have 'proposal' as this special performative speech act that Certifies You As Proposed, and these communications don't do that, because people say so. Okay.

It's not 100% gendered, because men certainly do this, but it sure slots in with traditional gender things about using and hearing direct and indirect requests, and lets fragile-manly men be the official one to propose.
92
Thanks CMD, Erica & BiDanFan for your responses upthread on the length of time between beginning to date and making a commitment of some kind - 2 years, 5 years, and when they feel internally committed. NoCute rang the changes very thoroughly on the pushing the point/settling/walking away conundrum, too - thanks! Just mulling my own situation a bit.

This discussion of what constitutes a proposal, who gets to make a proposal, and what it means if a woman makes a proposal vs. a man making a proposal ... making my head spin, though.
93
We talked about getting married for a while before it was settled enough to pick a date and tell family so they could arrange to come.

The way we knew it was settled is because he formally asked me.

Sure, it's artificial and weird. Having Santa fill stockings is weird too. And putting on costumes at Halloween. And French kissing, pretty weird. We do even weirder stuff in private: we're very kinky, you know?
94
Tradition, Tradition. @90 FirstTimeCaller.
Hinting at marriage is not a proposal of marriage. I see Tim's wife was pretty clear in offering him an ultimatum, not a proposal.
95
@55/@56 etc: Just wanted to make the point that really, no one but you (general you) gives a crap about your engagement story. Trufax.
96
For a lot of people here, having kids seems to be the more important goal than true love. I agree that if kids are your plan, marrying their other parent is a good idea for many legal and financial reasons. "Will you co-parent my children" doesn't sound as romantic.

Erica @80: Alternate scenario. There is no single, out-of-the-blue "will you marry me" from anyone. Early in the relationship, you discuss your previous relationships. This might include a marriage, or an engagement. Further into the relationship you discuss whether each of you, in the abstract, sees marriage and/or children in your future. This discussion gives both partners a good idea of what might happen if they were to ask. (You shouldn't ask until you have reason to believe the answer will be yes, and this reason comes from talking about it.) Further into the relationship your future as a couple is discussed. Do you want to move in together? If so, is it just to save rent money and travel time, or is it because you see yourselves together for the long haul? If you do see yourselves together for the long haul, does that include a legal commitment? By this point, one or the other should be able to say "You know how we talked about getting married, should we set a date?"
97
94-- I'd never thought of it this way before so I thank you for the insight, but even the most old fashioned proposals were ultimatums. The young man courts a woman with her father's permission. He comes calling. He dines at her home, and they go out walking together. In time, he gets down on one knee, proposes, and if she says yes, they tell the family. If she says no, he stops wooing her. It is an ultimatum because, if she doesn't accept, they break up, and he sets his sights elsewhere.

In fact, now that I'm typing, I'm realizing that in the modern world, a proposal without an ultimatum isn't a proposal either. Without the threat of breaking up, a proposal, either by him or her, is just a statement of a wish.
98
@95: Also absolutely true! I was responding to Tim's insistence that her marriage would be a sham without the "right" story, because she was Basic, or something along those lines.
99
@97: And I suppose an ultimatum is required because of not the commitment of a lifetime but being expected that someone will have to wait to drop however many thousands of dollars on a big ceremony and one needs to plan for that first.