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Dear Demetria:

I have been with my boyfriend for almost three years in a long-distance relationship. In January I moved to his city to be with him. We have talked about getting married in the future. But I’m super frustrated that almost six months into living together, he hasn’t proposed yet. I try not to bring it up, but I can’t help it. Then it turns into an argument about how he isn’t ready yet, etc. My question is, how do I keep sane while I have to sit in this waiting limbo period? It is consuming me! —Anonymous

This is a hard one to conveniently “fix” because there have been a lot of missteps along the way that led to this point. Your situation will be hard, but not impossible, to neatly unravel. If it makes you feel better, this is a surprisingly common conundrum. Also, you do know that waiting is a choice you’ve made. He’s not making you do that. You do not have to wait. Own the choice you’ve made to do so.

That said, you two have been in a long-distance relationship for a significant amount of time. At nearly three years, it was time to figure out, “What are we doing here?”

It seems that there was a desire from both of you to be together in the same city. But it also seems that you were both so caught up in the romance and the excitement of finally being together that you overlooked, or avoided, some important detailed conversations about where this relationship is headed and when. You’re now both learning this information on the back end, when it’s the most inconvenient and frustrating for the both of you.

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It’s great that you and your partner had a conversation about wanting to be married to each other before you moved, but as you’re finding, the timeline for that matters. A lot. You’ve made a big sacrifice by packing up and moving to a new city—likely leaving your friends, maybe family, and a job behind. You’re looking for a reward, of sorts, for doing that.

I don’t fault you for feeling that way. But since that was your outlook, you should have relayed it clearly to your partner before you quit your job and opted not to renew your lease so that you knew exactly what situation you were moving into—or not—and could manage your expectations and relationship accordingly. You opted not to do that, so you’ll have to own your part of the responsibility for the situation that you’re in.

Unfortunately, your partner didn’t convey his expectations, either. Like you, he should have conveyed what he was looking for—or not. Hopefully, you’re both mature enough to recognize that the two of you played a role in getting to this frustrating place.

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Now that we’ve acknowledged where the responsibility lies, it’s time for you first to have a deep heart-to-heart with yourself. (We’ll get to him in a minute.) I empathize with your frustration here, but you are going about it all wrong. In trying to get your man on board with your timeline, you are pushing him away. He’s already given you his answer, which is, “Not now.” 

You don’t like his answer, and so you’ve decided to badger him—because that is what you’re doing by asking the same question over and over in hopes that the answer will change. That approach is only going to get you, at best, Martin’s first proposal to Gina—which was the sorry, “Yes, Gina, I will marry you. Damn!”—out of defeat. Or your man is going to hit you with a “It’s not you, it’s me” (when it’s really you) and break up with you.

You may not like his answer now, but accept it anyway and ask new questions, like “When?” and “What do you need to be ‘ready’?”

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If the man is serious about marrying you and not just stringing you along, he’s put some thought into what he needs to have in place in order to do so. Maybe it’s a certain amount in savings, maybe it’s a down payment for a home, or maybe it’s a list of things he wants to do as a technically single man. Whatever it is, you need to know his goal and, more important, whether he is actively working toward it. That will tell you how soon, if ever, he plans to propose.

If he has a list of what he needs to get done before he’s ready and he’s working on it, help him. If it’s about finances, help him save by cooking together more and going on less-expensive dates or vacations. If it’s travel, help that man look for travel deals and hotel hookups. Unless the goal is morally offensive, help him reach it.

That said, if you genuinely don’t think he’s going to marry you, and/or he has no real plan and hasn’t given any concrete thought to putting a foundation in place, then you are wasting your pretty. You stop waiting and you move out. Tell him to call if he ever gets serious about marrying you.

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To be clear, you are not leaving as some sort of strategy or “game playing” to get him to “come around.” You are leaving with the intent of staying gone because you just realized that you moved to another city for a man who said he was interested in marriage but has not planned for marriage, and you realized that you can do better than this.

Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at askdemetria@theroot.com.

Previously in Ask Demetria: “My Baby Daddy Refuses to See His Child Unless We Sleep Together