The Truth About Why Your Boyfriend Won't Propose

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boyfriend won't propose

You think you know, but you don't.

For the longest time I assumed that the only real "proof" that a man loved you was the moment he got down on one knee and proposed marriage. 

However, I'm now 34, in the happiest relationship I have ever been in, and marriage isn't even on the table. 

What is it about marriage that turns even the most sane and together women and men into crazed lunatics? 

I think it's because of what I thought as a young person, we assume that love and marriage are synonyms, and if a man loves you, he will want to propose to you and be your husband and you his wife. 

That's why when your boyfriend won't propose it can feel like such a major rejection. 

There are a lot of different reasons why your boyfriend won't propose marriage that have nothing to do with you. Sadly, there are also reasons that have ... everything to do with you. 

What does a marriage proposal really mean? 

What does marriage mean to you? I mean what does it REALLY mean? 

The only way to understand which camp you fall into is by honestly assessing what marriage means to you and finding out if it means the same thing to your partner. This is the kind of stuff that can make or break relationships, which is why it's so important to do the hard work of understanding his point of view about proposals before you go ahead and brandish some gradiose ultimateum.

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Relationship expert Manj Weerasekera says that "Instead of diving straight into a list of possible reasons why he won’t play ball, it’s worth taking a moment to figure out why you want him to. What is marriage going to give you that an otherwise committed, long-term relationship won’t?"  

Some guys won't propose because they're not ready for marriage yet. 

He isn't stringing you along, he's moving at his own pace and that's good for both of you. 

Historically, women just plain feel ready for marriage more quickly than the average man. Maybe it's a biological imperative, our clocks telling us that it's time to settle down and start popping out wee ones, or maybe it's because women emotionally mature faster the men, whatever the case may be: women are ready for marriage before men are ready for marriage. 

“Historically men have been more eager to marry when they’re financially secure, and women have wanted to marry when they wanted children,” says famed biologist and relationship theorist Helen Fisher. 

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That doesn't mean that men aren't thinking about tying the knot. In fact, I think you'll be hard-pressed to talk to a man in a relationship who doesn't have very strong feelings about the right time and the wrong time to get engaged and married. I think a lot of that comes down to doing your best to understand his perspective. 

“He first needs to feel like he knows what he’s doing in the world and where he’s going; women are more concerned about who they’re going with," says relationship expert John Gray. 

Just like you had things that were important for you to accomplish before you tied the knot, the same goes for him. You might feel like you've ticked everything you need to off your bucket list, but for men it's about more than just having single experiences, it's about being prepared for the financial burden of married life

Some guys won't propose because you're not "The One." 

Sorry, it's true. 

The worst thing in the world isn't hearing a man say "it's not you, it's me," it's hearing them say "it's not me ... it's you."

Sometimes men have a tendency to backburner their girlfriends. What does this mean? It means that he likes you, maybe even loves you on a good day, but what's more important to him is that he knows you and feels comfortable with you.

He honestly has no idea whether or not he wants to marry you, and he's going to do his damndest to make sure that things stay exactly as they are for however long it benefits him or until the woman he's really been waiting for comes along.

Sound familiar? Congratulations, you've been back-burnered. I'm so sorry, it's the worst.

It's being back-burnered that can cause so many women to give the men they are dating an ultimatum about marriage. They too are comfortable, they too could love their boyfriend, but the bigger piece of the puzzle is that they want to get married, and they don't care who to and they've spent the most amount of time with this guy, so why not him?

Being comfortable enough with someone isn't a reason to propose.

Being happy enough isn't a reason to propose.

Being together for a long time isn't a reason to propose.

A marriage is a serious endeavor; it's a lifelong commitment. And if the two of you can't even be bothered to do the hard work of studying your own relationship problems then you aren't equipped for the long haul or for each other. Sometimes, in spite of our best intentions and most fervent dreams, things just weren't meant to be. 

Some guys won't propose because they don't believe in the idea of marriage.

For some men, marriage isn't necessarily something that you have to do. If they were raised in a religious household or they are religious person themselves, sure, marriage might mean something to them, but there is also a very real likelihood that marriage to him just isn't something that is as important as forming a loving, long-term commitment outside the bonds of marriage. 

For some men, it might be that they dislike the idea of marriage because of how they viewed their own parents marriage, maybe they themselves were married once before and it was a disaster.

Just as you are entitled to your own feelings about marriage, he is entitled to his own feelings about that so-called blessed union. If marriage is a deal breaker for you, you have an obligation to let your partner know that early and often. Neither one of you should have to compromise when it comes to something so utterly important. 

Ultimately, if you want to know why your boyfriend won't propose, you need to talk to him about it.

If you are so sure that you want to spend the rest of your life with this man, then you need to get used to talking with him about things that scare you and make you uncomfortable.

Marriage and love aren't always synonyms, they mean different things to different people and until you talk to your boyfriend you have no real way of knowing where he stands

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a sex, humor and lifestyle writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the sex, love, and dating advice show Becca After Dark on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday. For more of her work, click here