How To Not Be A Jerk To Your Friends in Long Term Relationships


I don't need a solution, because I don't have a problem

couple sitting at a table

At a party the other night, I was standing around with a group of gals and a friend asked for advice. She had just started dating someone and she wanted to know the secret to my happy relationship. I’ve been dating my sweet boyfriend for three years and living together for one, and we’re about as happy as clams in saltwater.

I told her that it’s simple: we have fun together. He makes me laugh. I said our relationship works because we really, really like being together.

At this moment another friend said loudly to the group, “Well it’s not really working out for you guys. After all, you’re not engaged.

Ouch. It stung, but not that badly. After all, I get some version of this comment, this shame-on-you-for-being-unengaged, at least a few times a week. Friends, family, coworkers, even strangers ask, “When are you planning to get married?” all the time. While it’s sweet that people recognize that we’re in love, it’s a one-way conversation. As a pre-engaged girl, I’m expected to keep my mouth shut and smile. If I say anything, be it, “Oh eventually; we’re very happy,” or “We’re planning on it,” or (G-d forbid) “I’d like to get married,” then suddenly I’m pressuring him. The worst thing a not-engaged girl can do is pressure him.

Frankly, I’m a little tired of all of it. And I know it’s not just me. So for all of us in long-term relationships, and for my sanity, I write the following.

Dos and Don’ts For Friends of The Pre-Engaged

Don’t: Assume that I’m angry, bitter, jilted, lonely, sad, or otherwise suffering. I count my blessings every single morning and night. I’ve found the love of my life, and he loves me back. We’re planning our future together and spending as much of our present together as possible. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my whole life. Assuming that I’m upset because I’m not engaged is frustrating, because I can’t convince anyone otherwise. The more I insist that I’m happy, the more people tilt their head with a sad smile and, while rubbing my shoulder, sighing, “Oh don’t worry sweetie, the ring is coming.” It’s as if they think the longer it takes to get engaged, the less he loves me, and the more delusional I am. Be kind to the pre-engaged and use this line instead: “I’m so happy to see you like this! You’ve found the person you want to spend your life with. It only gets better from here.”

Do: Please encourage me to talk to my boyfriend about our future and delete the word “pressure” from your conversations about that. Call me new-fashioned, but I believe that as an educated woman in my late-twenties with my own assets, ideas, experience, and opinions, I shouldn’t be waiting on my partner to make one of the biggest decisions of our lives on his own. What if I have expectations about marriage based on my religion, values, or traditions? Shouldn’t he know that before he proposes? What if I want to be the one to propose? What if I don’t want to get married? What if I have some debt that I want to pay off before we make it legal? What if he does? I fully believe that if this is someone that I legitimately want to spend the rest of my life with, I should be able to talk to him about anything. Talking about marriage is not “pressuring for a ring.” It is creating a sustainable relationship. I am not a coy, blushing girl waiting for my over-the-top surprise proposal. I’m ballsy and strong and independent. He loves me because I’m opinionated, so why would I hide my opinions about our future? I don’t. Honesty isn’t pressure.

Don’t: Please stop suggesting that I propose to him. Or that I make him a roast chicken. Or that I take him on vacation. Or that I should never have moved in with him. I’m not looking for a “solution” to my relationship. My relationship is not a “problem.”

Do: If you’re engaged, please talk to me about your relationship, proposal, engagement ring, honeymoon, venue, traditions, and veil, and let me ask questions without calling me pathetic or obsessed. Let me talk about whether or not to change my name. Let me ooh and ahh over your engagement ring and gush over your details. Let me ask you questions like, “Why did you/didn’t you do this/that?” Let me enjoy this blissful state where I can imagine that eloping to Paris is an option for us. Help me figure out what’s important to me before I have to actually make these decisions. Why not? If you want to talk about your wedding, chat away. I can listen to you talk about wedding details for hours, because I know that your experience will make my life easier down the road. But please, under no circumstances imply that I’m jealous. It’s not a competition.

Don’t: Please don’t apologize and look at me sympathetically when news of someone else’s engagement reaches me. There aren’t a finite amount of engagements and this girl hasn’t “stolen” mine from me. Seriously. Let me be happy for that couple without looking at me as if “thou protest too much.”

Do: Last of all, please be nice to my boyfriend. Tell my mom how well he treats me. Tell me how much you like him. Treat him like a grown-up. He doesn’t need or want you to make “excuses” for him. He hasn’t done anything wrong. He doesn’t need to hear that people think he has commitment issues, doesn’t love me, can’t afford a ring, isn’t mature enough, or “is just not that into” me. What he wants is for me to be happy. That’s why he’s the one for me.

Kurt Vonnegut wrote, “Freud said he didn’t know what women wanted, but I do. They want a whole lot of people to talk to. What do men want? They want a lot of pals, and they wish that people wouldn’t get so mad at them.” This pretty much sums it up. Talk to me and let me talk about my future. Encourage me to talk to my boyfriend. Be nice to him. And then relax and look forward to one big-ass hug on my wedding day.

This post originally ran on APW in November 2012.

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  • JC

    Preach!

  • idkmybffjill

    Ooh this one is such a classic! I actually think this is one of the first articles I ever read on APW. I found APW after a friend got engaged before me and I was having some serious jealousy issues, and it really helped me put things into perspective – and not feel like a crazy person for wanting to be married and talking with my (now husband) about it. Go APW!

    DON’T: Please don’t apologize and look at me sympathetically when news of someone else’s engagement reaches me. There aren’t a finite amount of engagements and this girl hasn’t “stolen” mine from me. Seriously. Let me be happy for that couple without looking at me as if “thou protest too much.”

    This is the most important don’t, in my opinion. Even if internally I was sort of dying when others got engaged, I was still happy for them, and it was so shitty to feel like I’d been robbed of my opportunity to react on my own terms. I had a coworker ask me if I was upset about another coworker getting engaged before I was having any pre-engagement issues… and I was like, “what? That hadn’t even occurred to me but now I have to think about it anytime anyone gets engaged now!”. It really sucked worrying if people were secretly thinking I was probably upset when happy things happened to my friends.

    • PeaceIsTheWay

      It’s funny how situations can appear differently depending on which side you’re on. When I was single and my friends would get married, I was never, ever jealous: I had no desire to marry their husbands! But when I got married, I would occasionally slip into an awkward concern for the feelings of my single friends (my closest friends are still all either married or not dating anyone – none are in the long term relationship this article is about). Putting myself back into my old shoes definitely helps: of course none of them are jealous of my marriage to my husband!

      • idkmybffjill

        It’s funny – I never felt this stuff while I was single, just when I was in a long term relationship and was ready for engagement. I haven’t really noticed projecting it on people who are in different stages of relationships, which I’m grateful for. I’ll do my best to keep that up!

  • CharlotteJ

    LOVE this. Love love love this. Spot on. Especially the “be nice to my boyfriend” part. When I express to people that I’m ready to get married, but he’s not yet, I find that the first reaction is to demonize him in some way. “What’s wrong with him? He’s going to blow it!” No, he’s not.

    • Sarah

      I went through this. I didn’t tell people I was ready and he wasn’t. I kept it to myself to try and protect him and it was so lonely.

      • idkmybffjill

        So lonely. I think this is the hardest parts of pre-engagement. Being upset but also loving your partner and not wanting them to be the bad guy. It’s okay for people to be at differing points of readiness… adding the pressure to keep all feelings to oneself to protect them makes it worse!

  • Sarah

    That roast “engagement” chicken is making me hungry.

    • Alli

      Yeah I don’t really understand how it’s engagement chicken but I seriously want it.

      (Is it like, “look honey I can cook pls marry me” ?)

      • Lexipedia

        Yep. “I can do wife-y things like turn on an oven so you’d better put a ring on it.”

        • Obligatory da-da-daa da-da-daa-da-dat-dat

      • Jess

        IIRC, in the early 2000’s a magazine published a recipe, and a series of staff and readers got engaged shortly after making it for their then-boyfriends, so they re-published it with those stories calling it engagement chicken. (follow-up, wikipedia article confirming: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engagement_Chicken)

        But… basically like Lexipedia said. “I can do wife-y things like turn on an oven and cut lemons”

      • Booknerd

        I made this chicken once for my two roommates. It was delicious, but alas neither of them ended up proposing ;)

  • Vanessa

    Oh man, I remember reading this the first time…and returning to it several times in the 4 years between when it first ran and when I got engaged. I could easily add so so many to this list but especially:

    DON’T ask me if I think I’m going to get engaged before every vacation/ask me if I got engaged after I get back.
    DON’T tell me the clock is ticking.
    DON’T tell me that someone who got engaged before me “beat me”.
    DO treat me like I am in a happy healthy partnership.

  • “Well it’s not really working out for you guys. After all, you’re not engaged.”
    I feel like…such a statement to my face would have caused me to flip my sh*t. What a bizarre assumption.

    • Jess

      Yeah. I would have had… not kind words to say at that person. Not even out of bitterness, just because like, who even says shit like that?

      • INTENTION IS EVERYTHING.
        That line’s a straight-up tear-down.

    • Amy March

      Yeah. Some of the statements in the article feel a bit precious to me- How am I supposed to encourage you to talk to your boyfriend about the future while also not suggesting there is anything wrong? I mean, by all means talk to him but why do you need your friends encouraging you to do it? Why, if everything is perfect, do I need to gush about your boyfriend to you and your mom? Sure, I’ll be nice but that feels over the top. Just in general, if your life is fantastic I don’t see the need for many of these rules- if everything is wonderful for you, cope with people not being perfect about it. But that statement? Absolutely not. Big difference for me between means well but off note (like saying you should propose or checking if you’re sad at someone else’s engagement) and just being mean.

      • Yeah. Like maybe we could split this article in two: (1) Don’t be a condescending ass. And (2) here’s a bunch of well-intentioned formerly socially acceptable beliefs that in modern day times now makes you sound like a condescending ass.

    • archivist777

      I realized that my family and relatives thought that same way when my boyfriend and I were over 2 years into our relationship and suddenly I started getting questions from them, like “So are you guys serious?”

      It baffled me because I was thinking, “Of course we’re serious, we’ve been together over two years and are happier than ever!” But to them, dating longer than a year means you should be engaged, and anything other than that means something’s wrong.

      • sage

        Same… My brother told me he witnessed a conversation between my mom and grandmother where my grandmother literally asked my mom if my boyfriend and I were “just a fling”. We had been dating 2.5 years and were about to get engaged!

        It just made me laugh because Grannie is very old fashioned and that’s totally something she would say. However, I wouldn’t be laughing if those comments were coming from friends my age.

      • clarkesara

        Are you sure they’re not just NOT making the assumption that dating for two years = “serious”? I’ve definitely had on and off hookups, flings, “let’s see where this goes” type relationships that lasted in the neighborhood of a year. Now, two years is a little much, but eh, whatever floats folks’ boats, I guess. Not everyone is looking for a serious stable relationship, and that’s fine. I don’t think it’s necessarily a question that’s meant to judge.

        • archivist777

          Yeah, I’m pretty sure. I’ve never been the kind of person who has flings, hookups, or even dated much at all. Plus they are all very conservative, early-marrying types. My boyfriend had moved across the country to live near me. In hindsight, it may have been that fact that made them concerned, because they probably assumed we’d get engaged very soon after he moved for me. When we waited a while, it worried them.

    • “No, it’s working perfectly. Was it not working for you before you got engaged? Doesn’t that make you worry your marriage won’t last?” Sweet smile and fuck off dimples.

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        It’s a shame I don’t have dimples.

  • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

    One of my friends made a comment to me once along the lines of, “I don’t understand why [some other couple that didn’t include either one of us] don’t just get engaged. They’ve been together for over a year. They should just get it over with.” To me. A person who at that time was in a non-engaged relationship for several years. When in the past we’ve both been in multi-year relationships that were disastrous and thankfully didn’t end in engagement or divorce. I just. What? What the hell is your reasoning on that one?

    • Eh

      It annoyed me every time a relationship hit that year mark and people started asking when we’d get engaged. I would have been engaged four times (including to my husband). At one year none of those relationships were ready for engagement (my husband and I got engaged after dating for over two years).

    • toomanybooks

      My fiancée and I have been together almost three years now (just under – and when we get married it’ll be just a little over). Someone asked how long we’d been together and said “We’ll, it’s about time!” (regarding marriage). That’s like, a year and a half dating before engagement and a year and a half of being engaged before the wedding. It definitely doesn’t seem like a wildly long time!

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        Yeeeeah, we got engaged a little after the 5 year mark. Nobody seems surprised that we’re moving slowly on the whole planning-a-wedding part.

        • S

          This is my thing – I’ve been with my partner for around 5 years and if we got engaged now it’d feel like way too soon! We’re in our 20s, we’ve got stuff going on, we’ve been studying, one of us is unemployed, we’re don’t feel secure in our lives yet. We’re not ready! I just find it stressful to think about consider the years people date before they get engaged, the external system for measuring whether people are moving “slowly” or “quickly”, the whole “they were together for sooooo long” narrative. Are they happy and ready? Great! Let me put on a killer dress and I’ll see you at the bar. (Also unless the couple has actually been together 10+ years and are making the jokes themselves, do we really need all those “finally!” jokes in wedding speeches?) I’m even just finding this conversation stressful because engagement and marriage aren’t a part of my relationship’s conversation at the moment and neither of us are ready for them to be, and it’s just vaguely annoying that if/when we do get engaged people will be telling us how long we waited. No, we got engaged as soon as we were ready! How can that timeframe be too short or too long or anything other than just right?? This isn’t Goldilocks and the Three Bears, this is just me and my partner living our lives.

          • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

            I hear you, dude. Who gives a rat’s patoot how long anybody is together before X decision is made? People have more choice than ever before in whether and when to get married. It’s not like there’s any shortage of suggestions out there that people might want to consider marriage. People are aware it’s an option.My mom actually asked me once, “So I’m not trying to pressure you or anything, but is there a reason you’re waiting to get married?” (Technically she was asking me about getting engaged. She figured out at some point that if she pressures me to do anything, even if it’s something I want to do, there’s a really good chance I’ll dig in my heels and wait for her to stop pressuring me.) And on one hand I think she was genuinely curious. On the other, whatever answer I gave her, she was going to try to offer a solution to it. I’m not looking for someone to convince me of anything or to solve some existential crisis I’m experiencing. I’m just not ready to do it right now, and if I have a problem in my relationship, the person to solve it with is my partner.

          • Totch

            Tonight I’m going to have a stress nightmare about someone saying “finally” in their toast at my wedding.

    • idkmybffjill

      Also ” get it over with”… it’s so weird! It doesn’t effect other people AT ALL for them to not be married…..

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        Right? It’s like she was annoyed at the inconvenienced of having to worry about whether or not they were engaged yet.

    • S

      Ugh, so weird. You know what I find strange? When years become a metric for a relationship’s timeline. It’s so strange to assume that two people who have been together for 2 or 4 or 6 years “should” be ready to get married or that every couple who has been together for X amount of time will be in the same place. I mean, the difference between two 20 year olds who have been together since they were 15 and haven’t graduated or lived together yet, vs two 35 year olds who got together at 30 and have travelled the world and had plenty of other relationships and really know what they want, is enormous. Sometimes people’s lives are touched by grief or mental illness or unemployment or long-distance relationships, so their 2 year relationship is nothing like someone else’s. It just feels like such a redundant assumption. Nobody can count the rings on a relationship’s tree from the outside and tell if they’re both individually mature enough for marriage, whether or not it’s even something both parties want, whether their relationship has weathered enough storms for them to be able to know it can weather a life’s worth of storms, whether they’ve got enough money to feel financially secure in starting their life together, whether they’ve got other stuff going on that needs their attention, etc.

      • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

        I love the image of counting tree rings.

  • DON’T comment on vacation photos on Facebook and say “Oh I totally thought this was going to be an engagement announcement.” Happened to me several times (especially after one vacation in particular) before we got engaged.

    DO comment on vacation photos on Facebook and say “You guys look happy/beautiful/wonderful/like you had a fun vacation.”

    • Kate

      Who are these people?!?!!!

      • idkmybffjill

        For real?! Who says these things!

      • Jess

        Literally me, reading this entire piece.

      • Lexipedia

        I had friends who are 7 months pregnant come out in their online announcement that the constant facebook speculation of when they were going to have kids (they got married, moved into a bigger apartment, got a puppy, got promoted and on every post someone would say that they were waiting for a pregnancy announcement) was super hurtful because they had been dealing with three successive miscarriages and couldn’t tell anyone.

        Like, none of your f-ing business world.

        • Alli

          Omg that’s awful. Good on them for calling people out, maybe it can help out another couple in the future.

        • idkmybffjill

          Good for them for coming out with that! Being insensitive about timing of engagement is bad enough. Being insensitive about timing of children can be downright torture. In many cases like this there are people who desperately wish to have them and biology isn’t cooperating. Show any sort of tact, people!

          • Emily

            Yeah, I am currently in an industry that has been in a bit of a crisis and my husband’s job was affected / things are less than stable. There is a person in my life who keeps telling me (age 29) that fertility doesn’t last forever and I should hurry up and have kids because I could have trouble conceiving the children I haven’t decided if i am having yet. She’s done this multiple times.

        • emmers

          Your friends are very brave. Many props to them!

      • emmers

        Assholes! :)

    • PeaceIsTheWay

      I totally had coworkers tell me this to my face, after one vacation. Still not sure what a good response would have been. I don’t recall being stung or anything (it was an AMAZING vacation, and I was very happy with the pace at which our relationship was strengthening and deepening), just not knowing how to respond. I think I just awkwardly smiled and said “nope.”

      • idkmybffjill

        Literally what are they looking for there? You to cry? You to say, “Well you were right! Surprised, I’ve been hiding the ring!”… just one of those questions that makes you want to say, “how is this helpful?”.

        • lamarsh

          My best friend did this to me for a solid year after my now-fiance and I would come back from vacations. Like, she would grab my left hand and say, oh ok, just wanted to make sure. At the time, she was in a not great relationship and then getting over a not great relationship, so I think she was just projecting her insecurities onto me and I tried not to let it bother me. But it was definitely weird.

          • idkmybffjill

            You are a more patient woman than I. I would’ve maybe cried and been like, “Do you know you’re hurting my feelings? Do you think I’d keep it to myself if we had gotten engaged?”.

          • lamarsh

            Yeah, I think what hurt me the most was the idea that I would have kept it to myself and waited for her to notice.

          • Jess

            WHAT. A whole year? Like, you touch me in a non-greeting or departing hug/handshake once and you are dead to me.

            I am in awe at your ability to deal with that.

      • Vanessa

        I had a couple coworkers do this also, and it sucked. It’s like asking someone if she’s pregnant – people tend to share their good news without prompting, just wait.

    • PAJane aka Awesome Tits

      Someone made a similar comment on a photo of us taken at somebody else’s wedding. “Oh, this looks official, do you have something to tell us?” Yes, that you should totally check out the professional photographer who took this, because she does a nice job.

  • Sarah

    So I come at this from a slightly different perspective. I dated my now fiance for 7 years before becoming engaged and I really wanted to be engaged from about 2 years on. I had people say some really crappy things to me- including coworkers who had never even met my then boyfriend.

    I wish some more people did this: “DO: Last of all, please be nice to my boyfriend.” One of the most isolating and hurtful parts of being ready before he was, was that I had I couldn’t even talk through it with anyone- not my parents, not most of my friends. I had one friend with whom I shared how much I was hurting- and it was because she never judged him and spoke ill of him for delaying- she just supported me. I am not one to air dirty laundry in public, and I was so protective over my boyfriend and tried to keep the world from judging him by pretending that everything was exactly how I wanted it.

    • Vanessa

      Yes yes yes. I had a very similar experience. People could not understand that me being ready before he was ready was both frustrating and ok.

      • yellowbellpepper

        This this this. My boyfriend and I were on the same page of wanting to get married eventually, but I was definitely ready to get that show on the road before he was. Many months ago I made the mistake of expressing my frustration that BF wasn’t ready to get engaged yet for various reasons (which is fine! two people usually won’t be ready simultaneously! I just had feelings about it!) with my best friend and she got real, real pissed at him, though she fortunately only expressed them to me, not him. I haven’t talked with her about it since. I was hurting, so I completely understand why she reacted the way she did, but I wish I could have discussed my feelings with her without worrying about her judging him for it. I didn’t want to air dirty laundry in public, but sometimes it’s nice to talk about things.

    • Franny

      I think we’re twins. I dated my now husband for 7 years before we were engaged. I had exactly one friend I could talk to about everything — she knew I was ready, she knew I was as patient as I could be waiting for him to be ready too.

      • Totch

        Triplets. Same exact 7 year timeline, but I was lucky to have 3 friends who really got it and were able to support and love both of us.

        • Morgan D

          Quadruplets. Also, y’all are giving me faith. We’re going on 7.5 years and have agreed to have the “putting a deadline on getting engaged” conversation in the next few weeks. Wish there was (in the last few years, and now) more social space for things to be nuanced, instead of rom-com tidy (for both of us).

  • Emily

    I think there is a dichotomy between people who ask questions because they honestly want to know your thoughts and people who are just looking for a platform to shame you. The latter I have very little patience with and I have tended to distance myself from those people.

    If you really want to feel the judgement… elope in city hall like I did without an engagement ring. The reactions I got were so bad that my husband asked me when I started murdering puppies for fun….

    In all seriousness though, these same people are now making insensitive and hurtful comments about whether / why I don’t have children yet. I don’t think its something that ends with just marriage, and it reflects more on the insecurity of the person making the comments as opposed to the receiver.

    • idkmybffjill

      Barf. Why do these people exist. Why haven’t they got better things to do with their time.

      • Emily

        My best guess is that people who do this sort of policing of others lives / lifestyles are insecure or unhappy in their own choices so they look for external validation in the form of groupthink / benchmarks as opposed to turning inward and measuring their own feelings or evaluating a personal situation (ie, I am married / pregnant and all my friends are getting married / pregnant so since we are all doing it I am doing the right thing and “on track” with my peers, nevermind any concerns specific to my wants / needs / situation).

        It still stings though, especially when coming from someone who I have relentlessly cheered on.

        • Ashlah

          Yep, and unfortunately all too many people take one person’s differing choices as condemnation of their own, even when they’re entirely unrelated (and probably “right” for whoever is making said choice). If they aren’t fully secure in their own choice to, say, have a big wedding, they might preemptively assume that you, choosing a city hall wedding, must be judging them for their choice. Us against them for no reason at all.

          • lamarsh

            I was trying to say exactly this, but you put it much more eloquently. This phenomenon never ceases to amaze me.

        • Anon7

          IE – the types of people who are blackholes-of-taking, as opposed to suns of selfless-giving like you, in relationships.
          I think you’re right that it all stems from insecurity, but insecurity and pride are all still roots of self-obsession and entitlement.

    • Totch

      The other day we were speaking with our insurance agent, and he was going over the details of a new plan we were getting. He’s a family friend, and has known fiance since fiance was 7.

      He mentioned “future generations” the exact right number of times and in the exact right voice to signal “I’m here as a professional and you need to know this about your policy but I’m not assuming you’re having kids and of course your mom hasn’t said anything to me about grandkids let’s just keep moving.”

      Bless him.

  • Ashlah

    I always cringe when I see people respond to an engagement with “Finally!” or “About time!” Can we add that to the DON’T list? Because seriously, it’s so rude. Just be happy for them!

    (As an aside, I saw this happen the most to a religious cousin of mine who actually got engaged fairly quickly, by my measure, but to his community it apparently seemed like forever. I actually, thankfully, don’t think we heard it once, despite being together nearly four years before our engagement).

    • idkmybffjill

      We didn’t either after 3 years! Thank goodness, I’d have been so upset.

    • Her Lindsayship

      My grandma told me she hoped my fiancé makes me ridiculously happy because I deserve to be happy, because I “waited so long.” :D It was going so well until you got to that last part, gram!

    • Laura

      My now mother-in-law responded with “…..oh. Well, we’re not surprised.” She then continued to repeat that they were not surprised several times over the course of the conversation. This was after five years of dating, so it truly should not have come as a surprise, but for God’s sake, it’s not that hard to muster up a “congratulations.”

      • Eenie

        My parents even KNEW we were getting engaged the weekend that we did and they still exuded an amount of surprise worthy of the occasion.

      • CrazyCatLibrarian

        I had the same problem. My fiancé proposed after about two years of false starts, so by the time he finally did there was a certain amount of “Thank God, finally.” Not because it had been too long, but because he had been talking about doing it for so long people were getting worried. So many people were just like “Oh cool, finally,” when I told them, including my dad. I actually had to say something to them because yea, I get it. It was a little ridiculous that he’d had a ring for two years and just kept psyching himself out, and the final proposal wasn’t a surprise to anyone. But would it have killed people to at least fake some enthusiasm? I wasn’t surprised but I was still pretty fucking excited, and it was kind of a buzzkill. I just stopped telling people after awhile.

    • TheHungryGhost

      Yup. My OH and I have been together almost ten years, and the ONLY people who have not made some sort of comment about it are my parents and my elder brother and sister (my other sister is not so well-behaved).

      The other thing that REALLY bugs me is people undervaluing my relationship experience, versus friends who’ve dated on and off through their twenties. I have faced most of the same issues as my girlfriends have, and my OH and I have succeeded in solving them, but some of my friends have made snarky comments about my contributions – b*tch please, I’ve been in a committed relationship for a decade! Just because you’re engaged doesn’t mean your engagement after eight months measures up to the experience I have…

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  • Leah

    Ughhhhh. As someone who was definitely ready earlier than my fiance and also had a bunch of property, financial and co-habitation goals we wanted to hit prior to marriage, this is so grating. Every bloody announcement punctuated with “so you’ll be next?!”. Argh.
    a) can we please just focus on the happy news of the couple who is actually newly engaged?!
    b) you’ll know we’re next when and if we tell you

    Also, what’s up with so much of these questions and statements coming from people who don’t know you that well and really aren’t privy to the goings on of your relationship. It was never close friends or family, always colleagues and extended, extended family. I had an ex colleague and someone I never saw outside of work who had the audacity to tell me I had to call her if it happened so she’d know before social media. Whyyyyy?!

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  • Nic.

    Oh my this is so american :)
    So happy that in western-Europe we clearly don’t get that kind of pressure anymore! (or really much much less at least)

    • I was kinda thinking that – I don’t know anyone who got engaged before being together for at least five years! I think people are actually kinda judgey over here of those who get engaged only a year after they started dating (especially if they’re not living together). There’s a very sexist of “oh, so you’re only dating because you want to get married? That’s not very romantic, is it?” vibe.

  • Celesta Torok

    OMG, this. My husband and I dated for three years before we got married and toward the end (that is, before we BOTH agreed it was time to get engaged) I would end up snapping at people “It will happen when it happens!” Same thing with having kids. I actually went off on my dad one time because every time I would see him, he would not-so-subtlety hint that I needed to start having children. “Oh, okay, so now that I’m married my only reason for existing is to provide you with grandchildren? That’s my only purpose in life? IT WILL HAPPEN WHEN IT HAPPENS.” grrrr. Basically, people, even well-intentioned ones, need to mind their own business.

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  • Hevynn Bolen

    I seriously loved this post! I shared it and it really helped one of my struggling cousins. Deeply grateful.

    http://www.beingbolens.com

  • Anon7

    “Well it’s not really working out for you guys. After all, you’re not engaged.”
    It sounds like that chick really has a messed up understanding of what indicates a healthy, happy relationship.

    Hate to be harsh, but if she’s married, bets on she’s divorced in 10 years.