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The proposal ultimatum

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  September 7, 2010 09:20 AM

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I'm back. My sinuses are drained. It's a good day.

Feel free to continue yesterday's holiday discussion about the T.

Today's letter is about forcing a proposal.

Q: I've got a question for you and your readers. Quick background: I've been with my girlfriend for 4-plus years. I'm 29 and she just turned 31. We met when we were both living in another state. I got a new job in Boston a couple years ago. My girlfriend moved to Boston after a few months of me living here. She got her own apartment because she does not believe in living together before you are married. We are at a crossroads because I just found out that I got a promotion and that I am going to have to relocate to Washington D.C. in the fall. She's willing to go with me but she has some requirements. She says in order to move there with me she expects a deeper commitment (i.e. engaged).

Even though I love her and want to stay together, I am not ready to get married. Maybe someday but not right this second. She's everything I could ask for in a future wife. She's extremely kind, loving, and gorgeous. I understand her point of view and that wanting her to move to another city without a ring is selfish on my part. But I just don't like the idea that I proposed because of an ultimatum. My guy friends say that I should just propose since she's the best thing to ever happen to me. They also say that a ring will keep her happy for a few years and then maybe by then, I'll be ready for an actual wedding. I wonder if we should split up now due to the marriage issue or if I should just man up and get a diamond? Have others been in my shoes? I have no idea if I should go left or right. Any insight is much appreciated.

– Pressured in Peabody

A: I hate ultimatum proposals, PIP. I'm with you. Nothing says romance like, "I was forced!"

To be fair, your girlfriend just wants to be assured that she isn't committing herself to a shaky relationship at 31. As if an engagement means that you'll love living together enough to get married. As if the promise of marriage means that everything will go smoothly. If you propose because she has threatened you, it's not as though you'll be any more confident about your relationship or the concept of marriage. You'll have fulfilled a requirement. If she's comforted by that, well, I feel bad for her. That's a real false sense of security.

My advice is to tell her what you really want and ask for a compromise. Don't propose and cross your fingers that you'll want to get married later. See if there's a third option.

Of course, she might not budge on her demands. And if that's the case, you either give in or you don't based on what scares you more, losing her or marrying her.

I have no idea if I should go left or right. That's a bit weird, right? I mean, after four years, shouldn't the thought of losing her scare the heck out of you? You don't sound very scared to me. Marrying her because your friend tells you that you can't do better just isn't a good idea. You're supposed to do it because you're sure that life is better with her than without her. If you're not, well, there you go.

Readers? Could he really go either way? What’s the deal with proposal threats? Has she ruined this with her demands? Should he propose without living with her? As a 31-year-old who has been with her boyfriend for four years, is she allowed to expect a grown-up commitment? Discuss.


– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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