How Long Do I Wait For A Proposal?


You meet someone, fall in love, date, move in, (maybe even have a kid or two – optional), OK so when are you supposed to receive a proposal of marriage? More than a few women have showed up in my office depressed and angry about being in a love relationship with a man who keeps putting off a marital commitment. They tell me they have everything else in place. When the topic of marriage comes up, they (the women) get reassurances that it will happen but no definite date if that can be avoided and it usually is.

In some extreme cases the relationship has gone on for years, living together, even rearing children together, while dodging a commitment of marriage. To add a little biological complication to the matter, your age will be an important factor. Older people are bound to feel this one a bit more acutely. Who has a lot of time to waste in middle-age? Think of it this way, the pain of a break up because you’ve come to the conclusion that you are not on the same page is bad enough. Never mind adding the extra pain of realizing you’ve wasted a lot of time as well.

I like to tell my female patients who are looking for a husband to have a “time limit” in mind. Usually the older the woman, the shorter the time limit if marriage is the objective. A common time limit for women in their late 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s is one year, tops. At the one year mark an honest and direct conversation needs to take place where the topic of marriage is the “exclusive focus.”

The response you’ll receive to the question, “Are we getting married?” will either be a 1. “Yes,” 2. “No,” or 3. “I’m not sure.” The last two responses usually require that your next move be a planned departure as soon as possible. If you get response number one, the next question required is, “When?” You’ll either get 1. an exact date or 2. an approximate date, or 3. an “I’ll let you know.” The last response requires that departure plan I mentioned a moment ago as soon as possible. If you get response number one, Congrats! If you get response number two, give your lover an “exact date” that YOU will be leaving the relationship. Of course this is always a bit difficult to do but in the long run it’s the only way you’ll get enough respect to actually be considered as a potential spouse.

Otherwise, as the old saying goes….why buy the cow?

Comments welcome. Dr. Jordan

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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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