Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Why can't we just move forward?

Dear ESB,

I am having a bit of a quandry. Actually, it is a pretty huge issue. I am in love with and have been dating my BF for nearly eight years now. We really enjoy each other's company and he really makes me laugh (the sex is great too!). However, I want to get married, and though we have discussed it many times, I am starting to think it may not happen. There seem to be a few, er, "roadblocks" in the way, for lack of a better term.

First off, my BF is Italian, and his parents are immigrants who speak little English. They have very traditional beliefs and don't want us living together before marriage. Right now I usually only see my BF once a week, because he lives at the other end of the city and works from home (he lives in his parent's basement). I have met his parents (though it took him three years to finally introduce me to them) and they seem to like and accept me, but still, I would like us to keep moving forward. Also, there is the catholic thing. I am not religious, and my BF isn't particularly devout either, but his parents insist that we must get married in a catholic church (which means I have to become catholic). I honestly can't see myself doing that, but if that's what I have to do, so be it.

Now the problems that are really bothering me. We are trying to save money for our own house. Our plan is that we will buy a house, then get married, and then move into it together (I will live there by myself before). Great, right? Well, we aren't anywhere near having enough money for the down payment and I haven't seen any sign that he is going to propose. Our friends have been harassing him to buy a ring and propose to me for about five years now; I even had my best friend tell him exactly what style of ring I like. But nothing. I suppose he probably thinks buying a ring is just money that would be better put into the house fund, but still, it's the gesture that counts, isn't it? Each holiday and birthday and long weekend goes by and nothing. And I only see him on weekends. We've never actually spent more than a couple of consecutive days together. When I think of this, I feel really frustrated and upset.

Why can't we just move forward? He is a wonderful, funny, caring guy and I love him and want to be with him. I am trying to be really, really patient and understanding and not nag, but at this point I feel helpless. I'm nearly 35 now and at this rate I doubt I will be married in time to have kids and do the things we have always dreamed of.

Please tell me what to do; should I just enjoy him for who he is and have faith and be more patient?

Elusive Dreams


Cut your losses and move on. You've been WAY TOO PATIENT already.

(Glen Luchford for Vogue Italia October 2008 via Gaile Guevara)


  1. ESP is right! Listen to her!

    You're 35 and only see him once a week? Yikes.
    He still lives with his parents? Yikes.
    Eight years and nothing? Yikes.

    He's not husband material. He's friend material.
    Which he's made very clear.

  2. oof. the last paragraph of the letter SLAYED ME. my question is this : why do you feel like you have to OWN a house before you can get married ? that's putting you and your boyfriend under a lot of pressure, which could be leading to his cold feet ! it's pretty unrealistic in the current economic climate. in fact, a lot of financial advisors would tell you that it's better to save your money, rather than pour all of it into a house that you MAY or MAY NOT be able to pay off.

    have you thought about reevaluating your 'dreams' ? Maybe marriage and kids should come before property and money.

    if i were you, i would have a frank conversation with him about this ASAP. and if you really want this to work out, be prepared to compromise.

  3. I have to agree with 17 beats. Also, why are your friends talking to him about marrying you? Why haven't you had this conversation straight up with him? They are your dreams too, you have the right to ask for them.

    If he doesn't come to the party then it's time to move on.

  4. I agree with everything said and feel the need to point out that you don't have to convert marry a catholic in the church. If he's saying you do it sounds like yet another way he's trying to put marriage off.

  5. On the Money, ESB.

    I don't think it's unreasonable at 35 to at least be SAVING towards a house, even in this economy. A guy who lives with his parents at nearly 40 years should presumably have some spare cash, right?

    It's a basic matter of being clear about what you want, if it's marriage, there's no shame in that, especially after dating for eight years. I don't think this guy is interested, I really hope she finds the courage to let go. All the best, Elusive Dreams!

  6. Anonymous at 6:49 is right. My friend got married in a Catholic church in a full mass wedding and did not have to become Catholic. Some churches might require this but not all.

  7. I'm so, so sorry. It sounds like this guy doesn't want to marry you. If he did, he'd stand up to his parents for you (re: living together and marrying in a Catholic church), he'd be saving a lot for a house and a ring, he would want to see you way more often than once a week, and most of all, he would propose.

    He's not making you and your desires a priority in his life. And you DESERVE a man who will do that.

  8. I know several people who aren't catholic who got married in the catholic church... as far as I know... only one partner needs to be catholic.

  9. Have you discussed your feelings about this with him as plainly and openly as you did in your letter? That your friends are serving as intermediaries for some of your discussions about marriage suggests to me that some of this remains unspoken between the two of you. I would make your needs absolutely clear to him, and ask him whether he can meet them, soon; then decide whether to move on or not.
    As some of the other commenters suggested, I would also suggest separating some of your desires that aren't necessarily dependent on each other. If what you really want is to get married and live together, you can do that in a way that doesn't alienate the religious parents without an expensive ring or buying a house.

  10. Give him the opportunity to man up. Tell him you're ready to get married, and see if he is.

    And then, if he isn't (we all suspect he isn't), GET ON OUT OF THERE.

  11. i'm with 17 beats...the pressure to own a house before you get married might be adding to his "yikes"-ness about getting married if you aren't close. it's tough to say move on...but if you want to move forward...there's a chance it might be best without him.

  12. If I can make one correction to your post... you DON'T have to become Catholic to get married in a Catholic church. My parents were married in a church and my dad is definitely not Catholic. Good to know for future reference. And by future reference, I mean in future relationships because you should totally move on from this one.

  13. I don't think anyone in their 30s would actually let their parents tell them what to do. Living with his parents, waiting three years to introduce you to them and respecting their traditional beliefs about your relationship at the cost of your relationship? These are excuses.

  14. Find a different church to get married at if the one you're hoping for doesn't allow non-Catholics to be married there. But if you're willing to go through the hassle b/c his family -insists- then go for it. Convert while planning the wedding.

    Yeah, he seems comfortable living in a basement, living in an apartment while married shouldn't be such a huge deal. Buying a house is hard in these times and if he's insisting on owning before getting married, it's just another crap excuse.

    Ugh, the old country folk are so hard to stand up to sometimes, there's so much going on with their children and respect issues and whatnot. A lot of people find ways to talk to their parents a lot of people don't, even into their 30s. I guarantee you he's getting crap from them too. They want grandchildren, it's their purpose for living right now.

    Go to your man, tell him what's what. Send him this email even because wtf.

  15. You need to do a few things
    1) Be blatantly honest with him. Tell him how the status of your current relationship hurts you and makes you feel uncertain about your future together. Tell him how important being engaged is to you.
    If he is able to man up and start standing up for your relationship together... then:

    2) take Italian lessons. It isn't a hard language to learn (especially if you've already had either French or Spanish at some point). His parents will appreciate the effort even if you never become fluent, and this may encourage them to become more lenient on their other demands. Increasing the ability to communicate better with potential in-laws is never a bad idea.

    3) Stand up for yourself. If he doesn't stay over with you through the week due to your own values, that is perfectly fine. However, if he doesn't stay over because his parents object? He needs to grow up a little and make decisions for himself.

  16. Talk to him. Read your last paragraph out loud. Why are you just "waiting"?

  17. You need to have a serious talk with him - lay it all out on the table, and if he isn't willing to commit after all this time, then it might just be time to move on. Who knows, maybe it would be the kick in the ass that he needs, or maybe it won't, in which case you're better off.

  18. Agree with LC - why are waiting? It's the 21st century, women don't need to be asked. Ask him and if he doesn't want to, then move on.

  19. If he's dragging his feet this much with regard to buying a home in his mid-30s and proposing to his (extremely patient and non-demanding) girlfriend of 8 years..... I can't imagine what you'll have to go through to have kids with this guy. Is this really the person you want to be making all of your future life decisions with? A guy who can't commit and who listens to his parents instead of his partner? Give him the boot!!

  20. As many have already said, you need to talk to him as frankly as you did in your letter. Cut the poor-girl-waiting-for-the-man-to-propose act. Take responsibility for your life and your relationship. After you've had a good talk with him, the cards will be on the table and you'll be able to evaluate whether or not to stay in the relationship.

  21. No mortgage, mama's Italian home cooked food everyday, great sex on tap. I'm not surprised he's in no rush to leave home, he's having his cake and eating it!
    Stop fixating on marriage and a mortgage and tell him you want him to move in with you. Seriously, men aren't that complex, if he wants to live with you he'll do it, if he's doesn't, honey you've gotta move on. xxx

  22. dude. there are other fish in the sea. wonderful, funny and caring ones too.

  23. @MsBunny and @17beats. Listen to them.

    He's in his 30s, lives with his parents, you've dated for 8 years...waiting first to buy a house together seems like a convenient excuse for him to put off marrying you.

    Sorry, love. You need to have a straight up, balls-to-the-wall talk with him about all of this. If you don't get the answer you want and deserve, then move on. No more weak female, just waiting around nonsense. It looks like you have your answer, to be honest. But for your sake, lay it all on the table and see what happens. Today.

  24. Dayum! That guy is not into you! Seriously, this is NOT a relationship that ends in marriage. You need to go find someone that will do anything to be with you. (Or perhaps he will find you.)

    REALLY bad idea to buy a house before you get married. I would even wait until you've been married at least a year.

    I'm sorry you're in this situation, but believe me, there are other men out there who will treat you light years better than how this boy is treating you.

  25. I know part of this has been said, but as a Catholic myself I feel the need to say: please don't convert to get married if you are not planning to live the faith. Everyone above is right, you do not need to convert to get married in the church if your fiance is Catholic. Otherwise good luck, and I hope that you find happiness and meaningful love in your life.

  26. I'm not sure why the gals that write into ESB never have a paragraph that says "i've told him how I feel and he says.....". For god's sake!! Talk to the man. Tell him exactly what you want out of LIFE. Not what you want him to DO, but what you want to achieve in life. "I want to get married and have kids and live with the person I love in a committed relationship and start a family." If that is something he sees in his life too then great! If not, done. If he sees that in his life but not with you or not in a time frame that works for you (hello ticking clock!!!) then you know what you have to do. You don't have to give him an ultimatum but maybe you two just aren't meant to be together forever.

  27. All I kept thinking was - have you told him all this?

    My suggestion is talk to the man. Then you'll have an answer and can either move forward with you beau or move forward with your life.

  28. Hi everyone, Elusive Dreams here...thanks for all of your straight up-advice. ESB, I know you are right, I just hope I can find the strength to actually have that talk and tell him what I want without backing down...and then have the courage to walk away if I have to.
    I love your blog, keep up the good work!


  29. Yeah, I have been in nearly this EXACT situation. OK, so not exact, coz we were living together, owned a house together, and had been together nearly 11 years. But he had one excuse after another about why he wouldn't propose. No money, wasn't ready, wanted the business to do better etc etc etc. Finally I realised that they were just that, excuses. And I called it quits.

    Hardest thing I ever did, but definitely the best. I decided not to issue ultimatums, as I didn't want that kind of doubt hanging over me. And I realised after that the constant rejection from someone I loved so much had done serious damage to my self esteem.

    But it was for the best. 2 months ago I married a wonderful man, with whom I am excessively happy.

  30. If you can't communicate about big issues before marriage, how will you be able to do it afterward? Things get even more complicated when you add in house, kids, career, and other life changes. Get with the program and start communicating now! If you don't ask for what you want you'll never get it. And if he can't deal with that, he's not life partner material.

  31. Really? Eight years and you have never been with him more than two days in a row?
    He makes you laugh, but, hey, do you see yourselves laughing *only* in coffee-shops (and never in *your* sofa, kitchen, floor...) for the hundreds of weekends that are to come for the rest of your lives because he won't propose and because you are not living together because of what his parents think?
    Two ideas come to my head a) YOU should propose (hello! it's 2011, go ahead, be brave!)
    b) run away far from him!

  32. my biggest concern is will you guys still be compatible while living together??!! Its safe to assume he's used to his mother cooking and cleaning for him. will that now be your job (in a mother/maid and not wife kind of way)? and what about his daily habits that will drive you nuts that you never even saw after 7 years

  33. Wait...huh? So his parents don't want you living together prior to marriage (and it sounds like you as a couple have acquiesced to their beliefs), but you want to buy a house together FIRST - before marriage????

    Ask yourself this: Have you not had this conversation with him because you're afraid that the answer to marriage is a big fat 'NO NEVER' from him? It's easy to make plans for something that's not going to happen for awhile (like buying a house). That gives him time to satisfy you that you're still a solid couple that's moving forward without having to actually make a forever commitment.

    I feel you - I dated a guy for 7 years and we were a good couple, but we ultimately were different people wanting different things and moving in different directions. For years he had been promising me that he would move with me to CA after I finished grad school so I could pursue my career. He was what I call a 'floater through life' so he didn't have a career or strong desire to pursue anything really. I know, as if that weren't a giant red flag! When I tried to talk to him about the when and where of moving, there was always some sort of dodgy plan that I could never get him to pin the details down. I was supposed to move first, and he would follow when I got a job. Long story short, I did my part of the plan and there wasn't a follow through from him. So I knew it was over and pulled the plug on our relationship, and it was NOT EASY. Fast forward five years and I'm getting married to the man of my dreams! I always think back and am soooo grateful that I didn't give up on my dreams and marry that boyfriend. He wasn't a bad guy, but I would have been miserable. Thank god!

  34. I'm late to the party but get on with your life, you two had your chance many years ago. Plus, he's already married to his parents and it doesn't look like he wants a divorce.

  35. rob killed the romper again!

  36. Be an adult. If you want something, ask.

    You may very well get an answer you don't want to hear, or even barely a response, but then you know and you can make a fully informed decision.


  37. So, this is super late to the party,but I wanted to say really quickly that this might be a cultural thing. My parents are also old country Italians and in Italy it is pretty common to live with your parents well into your thirties. In fact, my oldest cousin lived with his folks until he was 35, when he finally got around to marrying his long time fiance. I'm not saying that ALL Italian men are like this. However, if his parents are as traditional as you make them out to be, he just might not realize that his behavior is not the norm.

    All that being said, you should listen to everyone else and absolutely talk to him to figure out where he's coming from.

  38. why haven't you taken a vacation with this man? you've been together 8 years and haven't had a chance to go on a week long road trip, take a long holiday weekend and go to a B&B, called in sick on a Monday and lazed in bed all morning? i was going to mention the cultural thing as well, old school italian boys are very attached to their families, but the fact that you've only spent weekends with this guy makes me suspicious of his committment to you.