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Where’s the Ring?

Where’s the Ring?

I love him but he's not proposing. Should I give him an ultimatum?


Dear Penina,

I’m a marriage-minded woman in my mid thirties who has been in a serious relationship for over a year. I feel strongly that the man I have been dating is the one for me. The chemistry is great, we want the same things out of life and I know he will make a wonderful husband and father. Basically all of the ingredients are there for a successful marriage. The problem is that he isn’t proposing. I feel that, unless I give an ultimatum, we will be dating forever. But I am afraid that if I do this, I will lose him. What should I do?



Dear Julie,

From what you have written, it sounds like you have spent time thinking about what is most important when evaluating someone you are dating to determine their appropriateness as a life partner. Attraction, character traits and common life goals are the key ingredients of a successful marriage and it sounds like this relationship has tremendous potential. I totally understand why you would be afraid of scaring this guy off.

On the other hand, if the man you are dating doesn’t feel the same way that you feel, the potential for marriage might be somewhat diminished. My first question to you would be to ask if you have had an honest discussion with him about your desire to make the relationship permanent. Is he afraid of commitment, just clueless that you are waiting for the ring or is he having a great time but not really in it for the long haul? If you haven’t broached the subject with him already, this should be your first step.

If you have clearly communicated to him what you have expressed to me, that you are quite sure he is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with, what was his reaction? Did he affirm that you are both on the same page, make excuses or change the subject altogether? The fact that he has not proposed so far does not mean he has no intention of doing so. However, his reaction to your expression of what you need from the relationship at this point is of the utmost significance.

If you have not had a serious discussion about marriage, and hopefully you feel that you can communicate honestly and openly, I would not hold back. Tell him how you feel and that you desire a permanent commitment. If he is the one for you, you won’t scare him off. If he has commitment issues, find out if he is willing to go to therapy to explore his fears about marriage.

I've seen too many women fall into the trap of giving it “just a few more months” because ”he’s working on it.”

As for an ultimatum, the only way you can use this approach is if you are totally willing to follow through with the terms. You need to have a date by which you expect to be presented with an engagement ring. If he’s really the right one, you’ll know fairly quickly because he will want to work on any issues and focus on taking the relationship to the next level.

If the date you choose passes with nothing but excuses, you need to be firm and call it off. People may disagree with me on this but I have seen too many women fall into the trap of giving it “just a few more months” because ”he’s working on it.” True, there are exceptions to every rule and every situation is unique. However, if you want to marry this guy you need to take your life into your own hands and be up front about what you expect from the relationship.

I think that a maximum of three months from the time you communicate your expectations is enough time for him to take the relationship to the next level at a reasonable pace, especially if you have already been dating for over a year. And, if you are serious, you need to make sure that you can walk away if he cannot make the commitment. And the commitment needs to be in the form of a ring, not a promise.

Be honest about your wants and needs and don’t be afraid to draw the line. If he is the one for you, he will be happy to know that you are crazy about him and will likely get to work on making the relationship permanent. If he continues to procrastinate, give him a few more months to work through any issues, but in a proactive manner. Three months is more than enough time at this stage in the dating process.

There will always be stories of people who did not follow similar advice and things worked out for them. Just as there will always be stories of those who waited for the ring and just kept waiting. You can’t control the outcome of the situation but you can put forth your best effort to get what you want out of your relationship.

Related Article: Commitment: A Four Letter Word

Dear Penina,

I was expecting to marry the man of my dreams about six months ago. We had been dating seriously for almost two years and things were perfect. However, whenever I brought up the subject of marriage, he always said that he just “wasn’t ready”. I finally gave him an ultimatum. I told him in a gentle and loving way that if he did not propose by the second anniversary of our first date, our relationship would be over. Although it was devastating, I walked away from the relationship without the ring. Three months have passed and now he is pleading with me to give him another chance. He insists that he has been working on his commitment issues and knows that I am truly “the one” for him. How do I know if he is really serious this time and ready for marriage?


How Do I Know

Dear How Do You Know,

I applaud you for having the strength to be able to walk away from this relationship after your deadline for a formal proposal had passed. That took a lot of courage and I'm sure was not easy.

If you genuinely feel that this man is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with, the only way you will know he is ready is if he demonstrates tangible evidence of a lifelong commitment to you. This means that he has a ring and is contacting you to schedule a meeting to choose the wedding date, the caterer and the band. Don't accept anything less. The only reason you are allowing this man back into your life is for the sole purpose of becoming your husband. Period.

He needs to show up, in person, with an engagement ring and a calendar so the two of you can plan a date for your wedding.

He needs to show up, in person, with an engagement ring and a calendar so the two of you can plan a date for your wedding. Sending an email, text message or writing on your Facebook wall are unacceptable forms of communication with respect to a subject of such paramount importance.

He should also be able to tell you exactly how he has been “working” on his commitment issues and what he has accomplished to get past them. Has he been in therapy or just in another relationship that didn’t work out?

Flowers, perfume and promises to change are nice but frankly irrelevant at this stage in the game. Unless he shows up with a ring, or is picking you up to go to the jewelry store to purchase one, you should stop him dead in his tracks. Your objective is to embark on a lifelong partnership, not to get back on a merry-go-round of uncertainly and doubt.

Be strong and remain focused. If he can’t follow through on his end, take it as a sign that you made the right choice to walk away the first time. If he is able to demonstrate that he is determined to be your husband and won’t take no for an answer…mazal tov!

July 2, 2011

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Visitor Comments: 20

(13) maamme, October 5, 2011 10:59 AM

we have been dating or the past 4-5years.we have plans of getting married right after he graduates but am scared he might turn his back on me after waiting all this while for him.i have graduated already though and working.

(12) Anonymous, August 15, 2011 9:37 PM

married 10 years with no proposal.

My husband and I have been married,legally and religiously for more than 10 years, and he has never proposed. After knowing each other for a month and one week, he asked who was going to tell our families we were engaged, him or me? To this day, he has not proposed, it's a family joke. And, btw, we waited a very long time to find the right person, and it was well worth it. All the questions on your list had positive answers. It shows, when it's right, it's right.

(11) L.S., July 14, 2011 7:56 PM

Me-a-matum not ultimatum

No ma'am you do not need to give an ultimatum, just a me-a-matum. The difference is that an ultimatum is lighting the fire under the guy. Gee, what a romantic proposal, right? Not. You do not want a man to propose only because of his tush being on fire. A me-a-matum is where you respect yourself enough to leave, not say you are going to. Just leave, close the door, and explain in your own words something along the lines of "I just don't think we have compatible life goals, since I am ready to get married at this point in my life and you clearly are not. You're a great guy and I wish you all the best". If he loves you, he will propose within the month. If not, you just did yourself a favor by dumping a guy who does not love you, thus opening yourself up to the possibility of another man who will propose to you in a timely fashion. When two people who are adults are dating for marriage, it does not take more than 3--6 months time to lead to an engagement. If there is hesitancy beyond six months, there is a serious problem with the relationship and you need to move on. Hatzlacha to everyone seeking their bashert! May you all find what you are looking for!

(10) Anonymous, July 14, 2011 12:01 AM

This is why I love dating in the ORTHODOX community

You don't have to play these games, because there is no "dating for fun," only "dating for marriage." Both parties understand that's the goal, and it's much healthier.

(9) Pauline, July 13, 2011 6:13 AM


I agree with Penina and want to add this. A ring (a simple gold band is tradition), a wedding date in the near future, and discussing stuff with both families. Sometimes a guy will ask and even give a ring, just not to lose you...yet. But he isn't ready to actually get least not to you. This was my experience. I dated someone for about 2 years when, although we talked about a future, no proposal happened. So I told him, that if we weren't engaged by a certain date, then I need to move on. He proposed by then, gave me a ring, became disagreeable regarding each detail of the wedding. He even refused to be eating with me at our wedding if chicken was served. The item his father wanted my family to order was $3K more for everyone. (He and his father liked chicken, but his father didn't think it nice enough for a wedding, and his father wouldn't be eating it, or accepting another meal for just him. Therefore my fiance said he would not be eating if his father would be "going hungry".) I finally accepted the not so subtle clues and ended it. This was after being together for 4 years. He got married to his ex-high school sweetheart in less than 6 months after that. Apparently he was re-establishing their relationship during our courtship. I spoke to his family later and asked what was served at the wedding. The meal was chicken!

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