I was completely over my relationship and ready to end things when my boyfriend pulled a ring out of his pocket and asked me to marry him. I may not have handled the situation as well as I could have, but I definitely learned a few things from the experience.
It was the last thing I expected. It would’ve been nice if we could have discussed marriage before he decided to just propose out of the blue. Maybe if I’d known he was that invested in the relationship, I could’ve approached him about my issues with it in a more direct way. Instead, I was caught completely off guard and it made navigating my response incredibly hard.
We were on totally different pages about our relationship. Clearly something is off if you want to end a relationship and your partner chooses that moment to announce that they want it forever, but our miscommunications went beyond that. My boyfriend wanted to lock things down but I wasn’t ready to commit. Even if we’d been totally in love with each other, that simple fact would’ve made the relationship impossible.
He thought my horror was overwhelming joy. His proposal was made ten times worse when he thought my look of panic and disbelief was a look of total happiness. I was lost for words, but definitely not in a good way. If I’d been somewhat prepared for it, I probably would’ve handled the situation a lot better, but as it was, I could hardly stay upright let alone make good decisions.
I almost said yes. It’s even more horrifying when I remember how close I was to accepting his proposal. I was so shocked and horrified that I could hardly think, and when I could, all I thought about was how guilty I felt for planning to break up with him. It seemed so cruel that he should want to marry me just as I was prepared to end it. Saying no seemed almost too cruel to imagine.
He was just as relieved as I was when I declined. Luckily I regained my brain power after what felt like a century and summoned the courage to decline his offer in as gentle a manner as I could. To my surprise, he actually seemed kind of relieved. Maybe he knew we weren’t in a position to get married and had been secretly hoping all along that I wouldn’t say yes. Either way, we both got what we wanted.
He was trying to save the relationship with the grandest gesture of all. I learned later that his totally out of the blue proposal had been intended to hold the relationship together. He’d sensed that something was off and wanted to make a desperate gesture in order to show me how committed he actually was. The fact that he thought a proposal would bring me back to the relationship is incredibly insulting in hindsight and reaffirms my desire to break up with him at the time.
I hadn’t made my issues with the relationship clear enough. The truth is, if I’d gone ahead and broken up with him that night, he would’ve been nearly as shocked as I was by his proposal. He should’ve tried much harder in our relationship, but instead of drawing back and becoming distant, I should’ve been very direct in what I needed from him and left if he didn’t give me what I asked for.
I stayed with him for months afterward because I felt so bad. I felt so horrible about having wanted to break up with someone who wanted to marry me that I let the relationship continue even after I declined his marriage proposal. He seemed to be perfectly content to pick things up where we’d left off and was thrilled he didn’t have to marry me to keep the relationship intact. But staying with him was a terrible idea and made everything much worse.
When I finally broke up with him, it was horrible. I let the relationship drag on far too long out of pity and unfounded guilt. It wasn’t my fault I didn’t want to marry or even date him, but for some reason, I took all the blame. When I’d finally had enough and broke up with him, we were both miserable and angry, and we’re still bitter about the whole experience.
I’ve learned to break up with guys a lot quicker now. In retrospect, we should’ve broken up even before the night he proposed. The relationship hadn’t been satisfying for me for quite a while and I hadn’t been able to speak up about it. People stay in loveless relationships far too long out of fear of the unknown, and that kept me with him long past our sell-by date. These days, I’m extremely assertive about asking for what I need in relationships and leaving them the minute I’m not being listened to.
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