What to do when everyone is expecting you to get engaged

My boyfriend and I have been together for five years. That’s a pretty long time. We’ve live together for three of those five years and in that time, we’ve learned a lot about ourselves and each other. We’ve grown as individuals and as a couple. We’ve been by each other’s sides for a while now, watching the other mature and facing life’s challenges together. We’ve talked about marriage a lot, but there was never one specific conversation where we decided that one day we would get married. We’ve just kind of acknowledged it over time and now it’s something that we openly talk about. We know it’s in our future, but we haven’t been in any big hurry to make it happen. We’d like to get our lives at least somewhat figured out beforehand. This is all fine with us. No rush, no pressure. We’re pretty happy with the way things are.

For some reason, everyone else seems to be in a big hurry for us to get married, or at the very least engaged.

“When is he going to pop the question?” and “Have you guys talked about it?” are questions that, while totally reasonable, can annoy me to no end. Let’s tackle the second question first, because its answer is pretty simple — of course we’ve talked about it! Do you think we’ve been living together for over three years and have never once talked about the possibility of getting married? We’re both in our later 20s, what would be the point of being together for this long if we didn’t acknowledge marriage as a possibility? Now for the first question (and this one really bugs me) — I don’t know when he is going to “pop the question,” but I’m not sure why society as a whole thinks it’s his question to ask. As if I’m just waiting around for him to ask me, and it’s all totally up to him. That whole concept infuriates me, but this is not the time or place for that conversation. For now, I’m here to help you with three easy ways to deal with these DTR questions. If you and your significant other are both content with your current relationship status, but everyone else seems to really want you to change it, read on, my friend. I feel your pain.

Option 1: Go with it.

This strategy usually works pretty well for me. When someone tries to not-so-delicately ask me about the future of our relationship, most of the time, the easiest strategy for answering is to just play along. “I don’t know, he’s had plenty of opportunities!” is a great answer to the “popping the question” question. I like to tell people that yes, we’ve talked about marriage, but not seriously (even though we totally have), or pretend that I’m just waiting patiently for him to propose while I secretly plan a wedding on Pinterest and talk to all my girlfriends about it. (Full disclosure: I totally do have a secret board for wedding stuff, but that doesn’t mean I’m planning a wedding behind his back while waiting for him to propose. It’s for practical purposes only. He’s seen it. Or at least, he knows it exists.)

Option 2: Be honest.

This option may or may not lead to success, depending on whom you’re having the conversation with. With my mom, for example, I can be honest and tell her that we’ve talked very seriously about getting married but are just waiting for a time when we both feel ready. She gets it, or at least pretends to, so this is usually the method I use with her. However, other family members, friends, or acquaintances might not take this nonchalant answer so well. They might assume that because you’ve talked about marriage, you are secretly engaged. Or they might say something like, “OMG! You have!? Then what are you waiting for!?” They don’t care that we’d like everything else in our lives to be somewhat stable before planning a giant party that will cost tons of money.

Option 3: Wildcard.

This method happens to be my favorite, as it involves just making something up. Get creative. Say something like, “Oh yes, actually, he already proposed but we just don’t have a ring! We’re getting married next Tuesday at the courthouse!” Or, “No way in hell would I ever marry this guy, are you kidding me? I’m just waiting for the real thing to come along.” Or, “Oh you know, actually, we just decided marriage is gonna have to wait because we’re so broke and I’m pregnant.” While none of these things are true, it’s really fun to see someone’s reaction and see how far you can push your fake story. However, be careful when using this strategy. I’d recommend not using it with close family members and friends, but reserving it for distant acquaintances who really have no business asking about your relationship’s future in the first place.

Of course, all of this is just to be silly. The best way to have this conversation with people is just to be honest and state your feelings, whether that’s telling them the actual truth about your relationship status, or telling them you don’t really feel comfortable talking about it. It can be really annoying at times, especially around the holidays, your birthday, or when you and your S.O. take a vacation together, but the silver lining is that the two of you will always have something to laugh about. As long as you’re both happy, it really doesn’t matter what other people want.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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