Ask Sheila: My Long Distance Boyfriend Won’t Propose

by | Nov 5, 2018 | Sheila Snippets | 21 comments

Long distance relationship problems can be tricky to solve! Here are some thoughts for when he won't propose, and what qualities you should look for in a future husband.

What do you do if you’ve been dating someone for a long time–but he won’t propose?

On Mondays I like to take a reader question and take a stab at answering it, and today’s is from a woman who has been dating a guy seriously for quite a few years–and who even moved to be closer to him–but now he’s moved away to follow a business dream and says he can’t think about marriage until he’s financially settled. Meanwhile, she’s turned her life inside out for him, because he said that they would be married. By the way–he’s already in his early 30s. Her question’s a long one, but she summarizes the root of like this:

Reader Question

When I asked him what was going to happen between us, he simply said that nothing would change (we’d continue dating long distance) but he had no idea when we would be able to be married. After having some more conversations about this he said that he wasn’t ready to get married because of finances and he wasn’t even thinking about it until he is able to get things established with his business. Previously, I had made it clear that I will not be moving to join him unless we are getting married and he had no issue with that. I think my question right now it, is it worth it to continue in this relationship? As far as his character, I couldn’t ask for someone who I respect more. He is truly my best friend and has been there for me through so much. But it seems like we are not able to get the timing right in our relationship.
I really feel for this young woman, so Rebecca and I tried to answer her today! (And by the way, we had some terrible bloopers filming this. I left a few in, but I’ve got a longer video with all the bloopers that’s going out to all my newsletter subscribers in my weekly email on Friday! If you’re not signed up, you should be.)    
In general, I’d say this: If you’re going to be with a guy, you need to choose someone with good character; and someone who is totally into you. The problem is that we often find someone who looks like an amazing guy, and then we’ll put up with just about anything because we can’t imagine anyone any more perfect. But he’s not perfect if he won’t commit to you. And a guy who is 33 and who is not focused on marriage? Likely not a good catch anyway. I’ve got some other posts that go along with this one: And I’m a big proponent of Christian Mingle, too! If you’ve been with someone, and it just isn’t working, believe me–there are other Christians out there. You just may need to find them. So be proactive and take a look!
I hope that helps! Long distance relationship problems can be tricky to solve! Here are some thoughts for when he won't propose, and what qualities you should look for in a future husband. But now it’s your turn: what would you say to her? Should she wait for him to propose? Or should she move on? Let’s talk in the comments!
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Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Anonymous

    I have personal experience with this — on the other side.
    I just remarried. My husband got divorced decades ago. From that point on, he decided marriage was not important to him. He was an entrepreneur, and he put his business ventures first.
    He had many girlfriends over the years, but he told them up front he wasn’t the marrying type. He felt it was his moral duty to make sure they knew early in the relationship he wasn’t going to marry them. (He’s a nice, handsome, honest, and financially stable guy from a wonderful loving family.)
    Three years ago, he had a change of heart. He wanted to get married. He wasn’t dating anyone at the time, so he made a list of women he wanted to marry. I was #1 on the list. We had met many years ago. We had been business colleagues. We had never dated, kissed, or touched.
    So, out of the blue, he asked me to dinner and proclaimed his love. I was shocked, and after considering it, I agreed to go out with him ONE TIME.
    On our first date, I told him if our relationship wasn’t leading to marriage, I wasn’t interested. He told me marriage was now a priority in his life and gave him the backstory of his change of heart.
    We spent several months dating and discussing everything: money, sex, marriage, entrepreneurship, conflict resolution, personality differences, etc.
    I had a ring and a date in less than a year. Today, we are very happily married.
    I feel sad for the women who wasted their best years trying to get him to marry them. But he was 100% honest with them.
    His family, including his adult daughter, loves me like crazy. His daughter calls the earlier women “bozos.” I know that’s harsh, but that’s how other people view women who can’t face the truth.
    Re: This blog post/video.
    If this man has been 100% honest that he doesn’t want to marry until he starts his own successful business (a prospect that is highly risky and will take many years), he is not a “bad” man; he’s an “unavailable” man.
    (He hasn’t said marriage is a high priority in his life, right?)
    To nag him, push him, persuade him, and whine about him is silly, or worse, it’s being a stalker and it’s acting desperate. It’s being a bozo.
    If he ever decides to marry, he’ll marry. And he’s made it clear if it ever happens, it will be many years from now.
    He’s been honest that he loves his business ideas more than he loves her.
    She needs to move on and find someone who really loves her and loves the idea of being married to her forever.

    • Matt


    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you for sharing your experience! That’s great. And I totally agree with your conclusion. Don’t throw your time and energy towards someone who is making themselves unavailable. You’ll just end up feeling like you threw away your self-respect, too.

  2. Phil

    Hey Sheila – wasn’t planning on commenting today based on the topic. Was just gonna let it be and give everyone a break from Phil haha. However, as I was listening to your video Grace walked in and was essentially poking fun at me for watching two women discuss this topic that really doesn’t relate to me at the present moment. It turns out Grace had a lot to say about the video including staring at me deeply with implications of our past about a guy who says he wants to get married, moves across the country and never moves forward with it LOL. I figured it was worth sharing that here. Since I am here writing I will say what was already said but more direct – maybe? I heard that for this man, money is more important than this women. I hope she makes the right choice and moves on. If she chases him and does marry him she just might find even more wrong with him.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yeah, that’s kind of my take, too. I like what Anonymoous said, too. This guy just isn’t available right now. So don’t wait for him!

  3. Natalie

    Financial security/stability is essential to a marriage. Money problems are a leading cause of divorce. However, like Sheila said, the two should be on the same page about the importance of jobs/money if they’re serious about getting married. (Same as you’d want to be on the same page concerning faith, worldviews, children and parenting, how to deal with aging parents and each other’s families as a whole, personality compatibility, etc).
    This couple is not on the same page about job/finances, and I’d guess probably some other key points to their relationship and future marriage too. The age difference alone is a HUGE red flag in my opinion! Any mid-30-something who says he’s not ready to settle down is clearly not serious about marriage, at least not where he is right now in life.
    My husband and I met in college at age 19, dated tbroughout all of college, studied abroad in Europe together, graduated together, etc. I was emotionally ready to marry our senior year and definitely right after we graduated at age 22. But my husband couldn’t find a good enough job that he wanted (he majored in physics) and I was working a fun but dead end close to minimum wage job (ugh, shouldn’t have majored in literal arts lol). It was super important to my husband for us both to not be financially dependent on our parents in any way once we were married; I’d definitely agree with that sentiment. So we waited 2 years to get married. It’s seemed like a really long time, but those two years allowed us a much better life that would’ve probably taken us a decade to achieve if we’d gotten married right away.
    That being said, we are always on the same page about the important things in life. And he gave me a time period. We were going to get married by age 25, even if he wasn’t 100% where he wanted to be financially or in his carrier. This guy hasn’t given your questioner any timeline at all! Not even a rough length of time! If that had happened to me, I would’ve taken that as a huge sign that he wasn’t serious about me and our relationship, and left ASAP to find someone more serious and me/us. There are plenty of great guys in the world, and any woman is compatible with any number of men. It’s just a matter of finding who God has chosen for you. Stop wasting your time with someone who is holding up a Stop sign to your future together.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Great thoughts, Natalie! (We actually did get married before we had much money, but we didn’t need much, either.) But I like that you said, “by 25 or else!”

  4. Melissa

    In addition to what everyone else has said, if she does convince this guy to marry her before he wants in a short time after the wedding she may be needing the advice from last Friday on the workaholic husband. He won’t suddenly be a family man just because he is married. Which in his defense MIGHT be what he wants, he might want to be a family man but knows he needs to get these things he wants I his life first, who knows.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a great point, Melissa! I hadn’t even thought of the relationship with the workaholic husband post. But so true!

  5. Anonymous

    The U.S. marriage rate has fallen by 50% in the past 30 years. That means there’s a lot of 20- to 30-year-old men and women who do NOT value marriage (or at least, they do not value marriage *at this moment*).
    For us Christians and other traditionally minded people, we need to ask early in the relationship about the other person’s view of marriage—and take the answer seriously.
    It is not loving to demand someone do what they don’t want to do.
    It is better to walk away and find someone who has more in common with you on these big issues.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      So true. So hard, though, as well. I know that I was in the situation where I was with someone amazing that ticked all the boxes–except he wasn’t in a hurry to commit. I kept trying to tell myself he’d change his mind. But ultimately, that was his choice. (And it worked out better for me this way, anyway!)

      • Anonymous

        Yes, sounds like you got a great guy!

  6. Sarah O

    The piece of this that stands out to me is that she set a clear expectation, “I’m not moving unless we are moving toward marriage”, this guy acknowledged that expectation and let her move, and then pulled the rug.
    I hate to sound mean, but this is not a timing issue. This is a heart issue. The advice I generally give is this: “If the answer isn’t a loud and clear ‘yes’, then it’s a ‘no’.” She’s made it very clear with her words and actions that she’s interested in marriage, and in being married to him specifically. His response shows that he’s just not that into her -period- and also not interested in being married. He does seem to appreciate the attention in the meantime, but that’s just going to leave her completely drained.
    Probably she already knows what she needs to do before she asked the question. But it’s just so hard. I wish people wouldn’t do put others through the half-hearted, non-committal crap. Take a person or leave them, but don’t string them along.

    • Anonymous

      You are right.
      Now the question is: Did she merely make the statement—without waiting for a reply?
      I did that kind of thing in my first marriage. It feels good to blow off steam and get indignant. But if he didn’t respond, or if he gave her a vague response, she needs to protect herself by pinning him to the wall.
      If you create a line in the sand like that, you must have the courage to walk away if the response is vague, indecisive, or negative.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally agree!

  7. Ashley

    I agree with everyone who has said she should let him go and move on with her life. I tend to see a lot of red flags now, some real and some probably imagined, because of my own experiences. But what I see is her investing 100% in the relationship and him just not. As Rebecca (I think) said in the video, if you see a person behaving a certain way before marriage, you can’t expect that to change after marriage.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire


  8. Mary

    If he is prioritizing his career over her now he would likely continue to do that into married life. Right now it sounds like she’s doing all the flexing and he’s not even too bothered whether they’re together.
    I would break up with him to test the theory. Make it very clear that unless you can start planning a wedding & a life together in the foreseeable future, it’s over. He’ll either turn up with a ring, or shrug and move on.

  9. Lavern

    I love – love – love watching this video & listening to the discussion. It’s easy for me to see the situation because I’m not pulled to that guy. I agree that she should let go. She may need some emotional support to do so. Perhaps it’s time for a Christian counselor. I’m wondering if they’ve been physically intimate, which would make the break-up more difficult for this gal. Did he encourage her to follow him when he distanced himself? Too bad she followed without a proposal and an engagement ring. His ‘good character’ seems to lack honesty.

    • Courtney

      I really love my boyfriend for over 4 years, I’ve known hom for 6. We are on lond distance relationship and we decided to love together if I compromise. I was planning to move to his country but eventually changed my mind. I was really eager to move without any doubts and second thoughts, given the fact that he never proposed for a marriage. I was so inlove and never thought about the consequences. However, one day, I just realized that something was odd, what if our relationship being together and living in just one roof wouldn’t work? What if he wouldn’t propose? What if we wouldn’t even get married? I will be sacrificing everything I have for him, I will be compromising all my dreams and plans in my country to be with him but is he really into me? He has priorities, his career, his family. He is a perfect guy , he is the love of my life but I don’t think of he’s feeling same way towards me as well.

      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        That’s wise, Courtney. If he won’t propose, then don’t change your entire life. You’d be betting a lot on him.


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