Life After Dating: Is It Bad That I Keep Nudging My Boyfriend To Propose?

In March, Michael and I met up with my friend and her boyfriend for a double-date. I already knew that they’d gone to look at rings, but their big news that night was that he had gone ahead and bought it, and already talked to her mom and dad about proposing to her. I was thrilled for my friend: She is one of the coolest people I know, her boyfriend is a really good guy, they work well together, they’ve started building a life that suits what she wants, and now they’re making it official — things are working out really nicely for them.

When we left the bar and were safely out of anyone’s earshot, and asked Michael to stop. “I just want to be clear,” I told him, “I want to get married. That’s where I’m headed. I’d like to know if that’s what you want, too.”

“Yeah,” he said, and smiled. “Yeah what?” I asked, because I hate having things in uncertain terms. “Yeah, I want to marry you some day,” he replied.

I left it at that that night. I was a few weeks away from leaving for what was supposed to be almost a full year of travel, so it didn’t merit much more conversation. When I came back, it was months before I started thinking about it very much because I was taking care of myself. But eventually I turned a corner: It was some completely ordinary moment, Michael said something funny, I was laughing, and I realized that I was past wanting to marry him and to the point that I was ready to marry him.

That has taken a lot for me. After I left my ex, I swore I’d never get married again. There are plenty of good reasons not to, not least of all that it seems wildly unnecessary if the two people involved are happy together, self-sufficient, and willing to make a commitment without needing to attach a contract to it. The idea of a contract scared me once I was trying to get the contract dissolved, the way I imagine it would scare anyone who’s been jilted by a business partner in the past – being legally attached to someone who is irresponsible about their obligations, negligent of the terms of a partnership, and, in the end, selfish about the way the partnership functions would make anyone wary.

But I’m confident about Michael. He’s a good man. He’s altruistic, he respects both his boundaries and mine, his needs and mine, he’s in it for both of our betterment. You live, you learn, you better identify people who really should be a part of your life.

But now I’m like, “Let’s go!” Every so often, as a way of being affectionate and reassuring, he’ll say, “I’m gonna marry you” and smile at me. I always reply, “When?” Last weekend he texted me to tell me that he held his friend’s new baby and now he wants one. My response: “Uh-oh. Better put a figurative ring on it” (I do not want an engagement ring – see how easygoing I am about this?). I’ve already started an account on The Knot. Part of it is eagerness and part of it is anxiety: I want to know what my life is going to be looking like in the next year. I want to be able to plan ahead.

The balance I have to strike for us, emotionally, is that I’m 27 and I’ve been married before within a seven-year relationship. Michael is 23 and it’s his first serious relationship. He’s in his first job out of college — a good job, and a job at which he wants to prove himself before he makes any major life changes. I was living independent of my parents by the time I was 20; he’s still getting used to his full, self-sufficient adult life. He wants time, while I don’t see many good reasons to wait.

He tells me we’ll be engaged by spring. Is it wrong that I keep nudging regardless? I hope he sees it as being affectionate, because that’s the way I mean it. I’m looking forward to a life with him, and for me, that’s extraordinary.

Rebecca Vipond Brink is a writer, photographer, and traveler. You can follow her at @rebeccavbrink or on her blog, Flare and Fade.