Dating, Relationships, & Sex

ASK A VERY SMART BROTHA: HE PROPOSED BUT I NEVER GOT A RING

Ok, I REALLY need help.

Rundown:

–BF and I have been dating for 7 years
–He proposed a year ago but never gave me a ring, so I’ve been waiting
–His car recently got repo’d for not paying tickets, so he had to pay $5k to get it all out. (Money was borrowed from aunt.)
–In April, I told him that he had until the end of the year to give me my ring and officially propose or I would leave. The other day, he told me he would miss that deadline since he paid so much to get his car out.

What should I do??? Help please!

Dear What Should I Do,

There are two separate things I want to address in your question. Neither of them directly answer your question, but you can find the answer to your question in both responses. (Trust me, it’ll make more sense once you read.)
1. Your situation is a perfect example of why age considerations are so important when asking and answering a question. While it may not seem “right” or “fair” to think about an adult’s age when giving them advice about dating and relationships—especially when much of the feelings and emotions that go along with this subject transcend age—it is practical.

Anyway, I’m bringing this up because my response to your question depends on your age. If you’re in your late 20s or above, I’d advise you to move on. Why? Well, if you are that age, then you were at least 21 when you two started dating. Basically, your relationship began while you were both adults, and it usually doesn’t take adults seven years to finally realize they want to marry someone. In fact, I’d argue that, for people in their late 20s to early 30s, after two years of dating, the likelihood of you actually getting married decrease with each year. A “engagement” after seven years seems more like a pressured response to an ultimatum (more on this later) more than a man who actually wants to be with a woman for the rest of his life.

If you two are young (25 or below), though—and the tone and content of this letter leads me to believe that you are—I’d be more willing to give him the benefit of the doubt in regards to his plans. Perhaps he does want to marry you, but doesn’t have the money or resources to do things the way he wants to. (Btw, if a car is repossessed, it’s because he wasn’t making car payments, not because of unpaid tickets.)

That being said, my spidey senses still tell me that regardless of your age, he just doesn’t seem to be all that into marrying you. Is that just cause to break up? I don’t know. But, I do know that if you want to be married, you’re going to have to find someone else

2. I want you—and everyone reading this—to repeat after me: Heart-related ultimatums are always terrible ideas.

ALWAYS!

Why? Well, while the heart-related ultimatum—what happens when one person threatens to leave someone unless they make a commitment to them—might get what the person wants (a commitment), it gets it for the wrong reason. Basically, if you want someone to commit to you, you should want them to want to commit. The heart-related ultimatum, though, forces someone to commit out of guilt or fear. So, even if you get the desired answer, you’re left with someone who only said they wanted to be with so you’d shut up and stop asking.

In summary, if you have to ask someone to commit to you, you have your answer even before they give theirs.

Read more at Madame Noire

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a contributing editor for EBONY.com. He resides in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes.

  • Wild Cougar

    I gotta disagree with your #2. It’s logically sound, but, it it’s often the case that the guy wants do what you are asking, but for some reason he hadn’t taken the initiative. It may be that he’s reaping the benefits of the relationship without any sacrifices on his part and he’s allowed it to spoil him. Maybe he’s actually a stand up guy that let a good woman corrupt him. The idea that he could lose her can remind him how a good man behaves. I’ve seen it happen that way a lot. I would tell ladies don’t make an ultimatum unless you are really ready to leave. If he complies begrudgingly, you’ll know it’s not real.

    • Eps

      If he complies at all to an ultimatum then you have to question his motives.

      • Wild Cougar

        His motive couldn’t be that he would rather make you happy than lose you? Y’all act like you’ve never seen a man start or stop doing something because his woman put her foot down. There’s the ideal and there’s real relationships.

        • Obsidian

          Like you actually know the difference?

          O.

    • Gem Jones

      i disagree on ultimatums. any person who has to be REMINDED with THREATS is not a person i want to deal with.

      but thats me.

      the thing thats disturbing about this letter is that she’s making an ultimatum about a RING. not marriage itself but a RING. something he clearly cant afford. theres not way shes going to win this.

      • Latonya

        Exactly, Why she giving him an ultimatum over a ring to show family and friend that she has a ring? I bet you she’ll be the main one complaining about him not having a car to go bridal shopping! What he needs to do is count his blessing and move on those type of woman are nothing but trouble.

      • mpm210

        I agree with you about both the threats and the ring. But, the ring does signify something that he is obviously not willing to do – make a commitment. For the record, I don’t think rings are that important, but the dude is obviously stalling in their relationship, and while the ring itself is not important, him not taking the initiative to get some sort of placeholder for her says a lot.
        I agree with everyone that has replied so far – this relationship is going nowhere.

        • Negro Libre

          But you’re leaving something out:

          The ring means a commitment to her, it means nothing to men, if it did, women would be spending a lot more cash on rings than they do. To guys, the proposal is the actual commitment. The ring is all for her; in fact in our minds, just like the wedding: a ring is something for a woman to show-off to those she cares about.

          This is a prime example of us trying to look at men through a woman’s expectations rather than look at him as what he is. I mean the guy is willing to marry her, but he’s broke, if she can’t deal with that then she should leave. But we should stop acting like it’s because he didn’t want to get married – it’s a lie.

          • chameleonic

            dude, thats what i thought and then i was like….’that is exceptionally naive.’

            • Negro Libre

              It’s about truth, not about being naive.

              It’s like that scene in Martin, where he proposes to Gina: she threatens she’s going to leave, and then Martin begrudgingly gives her the ring, which she rejects. Then he goes out there and gets Brian McKnight to sing, does something romantic and then asks her to marry him, and she says yes. She feels like she’s won and her dreams are coming true, but the truth is that she forced him to propose to her…and it was a beautiful lie. Which is fine, but reality is reality.

              • chameleonic

                he proposed to her of his own desire without a ring? that would be cool just on the basis of what hes telling her hes willing to do/be for the rest of his life. the ring though is important because it shows the actual dollar investment. its the actual act of money put down. i think saying yes to someone with nothing to offer or put down is naive. theres no sense of security its just…’well, this feels right and i trust him.’

                i also think men dont fully understand the magnitude and importance of wooing an emotional state. its equally important if not the most vital element because a union has to make you feel its worth the rest of your life. it has to feel worth a yes. it has to feel as if this man knows how i experience us and cares that its pleasant for me.

                i also think its naive because not only is it not wooing the emotions or is even remotely close to her wants, he isnt even capable of her needs.

                • Negro Libre

                  Women get to be romantic, men have to be logical. Regardless of how important it is to be wooed, if it’s a lie, it’s a lie.

                  • Kema

                    Are men logical when choosing a mate? I dont think so. Men tend to wait for the one (very romantical). While women say yes to a man they decide they can tolerate.

                    • Negro Libre

                      That’s not true at all, neither was that the context I was referring to.

                      We were talking about the proposal scene in Martin. I was talking about how a woman can get caught up in being wooed, and romance and all the other stuff that women want a guy to give them, whether it’s a date, a walk in a park etc. Women get to do that. Guys have to be logical, and not buy into the romance stuff. Why? Because it’s not for them. Guys don’t dream about romance; guys care about having a woman they can trust and protect – there’s nothing romantic about it. When guys get caught in the romance, they get screwed and our divorce court system reminds us everyday.

                  • chameleonic

                    men are lying when theyre being romantic? thats almost bothersome. thats why i like presenting logical things to a man that are actually emotional for me; hence, detailed financial discussions or…’this need of mine costs…’ and to a man he computes it logically and fufills it simplistically whereas i am completely gushing about it. not that ill ever show that and isht, ijs. a mans logic does translate to romantic emotional experiences.

                    • Negro Libre

                      That’s not what I said…there you go.

                      The whole idea behind romance and logic is how you interpret a pleasurable event, especially in a relationship. The romantic person doesn’t look out for deception or contradiction with reality when something is happening, they just enjoy the actual moment. The logical person has to look out for deception and contradiction before enjoying an actual moment: make sure that what is happening isn’t an illusion.

                      As I said, “Guys have to be logical”, not that they always are. If we’re talking black guys, on average we’re more likely to be emotional than other men, which is why our relationships today are in trouble. Why is it so important that guys be logical?Because women live for romance; they consume as much as possible. Even if men were out of the picture, they’d still be into it. However, as men, without women, we’d care little about romance, it has nothing to do with reality, all it has to do with is pleasure. Most women are going to take romance over logic 9 out of 10 times, when the opportunity presents itself.

                      Logic doesn’t mean that one doesn’t have emotions, or that one is cold blooded; all it means is one always tries to confirm their feelings with reality: i.e am I deceiving myself, am I being deceived etc. When women get deceived or some guy lies to them, they can always say “he used me”, and no matter how bitter they might get, there will always be some guy who wants them, and who wants to take care of them and give them all the romance stuff. Whereas guys can’t get women, if their minds ain’t right. If a guy gets bitter, women don’t want him; doesn’t matter the circumstance. This is why divorced guys trying to get back in the game are a pain to watch.

                    • chameleonic

                      i dont think you ever understand a single thing im saying to you. but its at least YOU are understood, i guess.

                    • chameleonic

                      actually, thats not true. you always understand youre just a jerk about knowing what youre talking about. i frequently end up crying and giggling at the same time because i cant tell if you just insulted me or made me feel happy. i need fresh air. youre kind of suffocating but in a good way. even though im always the one seeking you out so i guess its more like…’well theres a smoldering cloud of im never gonna get a word in, let me go sit in it and pout…’ it would be funny if i didnt feel like pouring my heart out every second of every day.

        • Pretty Primadonna

          I agree. Even if she does get the ring…then she’ll be forced to make ultimatums about them setting a date. This guy is definitely stalling and doing the minimal to keep her around without actually committing.

      • Brother Mouzone

        *the thing thats disturbing about this letter is that she’s making an ultimatum about a RING. not marriage itself but a RING. something he clearly cant afford. theres not way shes going to win this.

        THANK YOU Gem, I was thinking the same thing. Sounds to me like she’s listening to some man-less girlfriends.

    • Obsidian

      Wait, you actually know what logic means?

      O.

  • chameleonic

    i always wonder about that when dudes are all aggressive with me. and it really isnt an affront to them i just wanna know how stable well be. if a dude is financially secure hes probably been preparing for the day he meets a woman. cool. but. i feel like *added* expense. like. your bottom line will definitely take a hit so if you dont have a cushion there would be no point. i inherently always feel like im bankrupting a financially secure dude. i hate to be all formal but i sincerely wanna just ask if im a liability because i feel like i am.

    its always on the outskirts of my conscious because men arent very forthcoming with stuff like that theyre just all ‘lol….i got this. chill.’ like, could i please just go through your financial history. can i check your income/bills/debt ratio. can i get a carfax on your ability to provide. im not scared or anything im just (scared) timid. its weird. its weird leaving your father to be looked after by another man its scary and i feel like whining because your only credential is ‘cmoooon, have faith in me.’

    im sorry. WHAT?! no. and then on top of that im not a male. i have no idea how men develop. maybe i just have to rock with you for a little bit. i mean, both of my parents were poor when they got married and now my dad is ‘ill pay *everyones* hotel expenses for this trip’ so maybe men should be trusted initially. but i think the slight panic of it is a real, legitimate concern. its really uncomfortable and its hard and its scary. i dont necessarily think a dude should be struggling that hard when he makes a woman his wife and any man who is shouldnt be taken too seriously.

    you may be a developing leader/head of household/patriarch but have it together in being that. and i totally agree. a man will be to you how he feels about you. its that simple.

  • Animate

    Okay, the first question that needs to be asked is this…

    Does she want a ring or does she want to get married to this guy? An engagement ring does not mean you are engaged. An acceptance of a proposal does. Think big picture here.

    The ultimatum was not a good look. Why? Because his car being repossessed shows he is hurting for money either by his own doing or otherwise. An engagement ring for you is the least of his worries at this point.

    • Eps

      That is what I am thinking. Too many people are chasing the ring and the ceremony, not the actual commitment.

      • Brother Mouzone

        PREACH, my brotha!

    • mena

      She needs to find a new dude but has invested 7 years and doesn’t want to lose on that investment. She knows exactly what she needs to do.

      • chameleonic

        i was with my childhood sweetie for 8 years and he wasnt this bad but he was struggling to get on his feet. i said no because i didnt trust him. a few years later he was married, had two businesses, a child, baby on the way, nice little condo. i think age does have a factor because if dude is like 30 hes not serious about her or himself at all but if theyre young, i wouldnt outright say trust him but…it takes time to get on your feet.

        • chameleonic

          but then again he had to borrow the money for his car. its not like he had it saved up for a ring but then he used it on the unexpected expense. so actually, i think i agree. hes probably a bum and she needs to realize that.

      • J. Delancy

        In Economics its called “Sunk Cost Fallacy”

      • Animate

        While 7 years does seem like a long time I don’t know the dynamics of their relationship and I don’t usually go with timelines with relationships.

        • mena

          Dude, 7 yrs is a LONG time.

          I agree with Champ, after a certain age, if y’all are still dating after 2 years, you aren’t getting married.

          • Latonya

            I personal don’t believe you should stay with someone no longer then 2 – 3 yrs to determine if that person wants to marry you are not.

            • Marc.J.H.

              In this day and age, especially with the high divorce rate of America, I don’t think its logical for people to put short timelines on relationships. 2-3 years is not a lot of time to get to know a person that you will be spending the rest of your life with. I don’t necessarily place timelines on relationships but of course if we’re together for 10 years and haven’t figured something out then it may be time to move on. However, I’m not about to say that two years with you is a long enough time period for me to really get to know this person and come to a complete decision as to if this is the person that I want to have and raise children with. Marriage is supposed to be for the rest of a persons life and it’s too big of a decision to base on 24-36 months alone.

              • Yonnie

                In cases like this, I feel like we should state our age when commenting, lol. I’d venture to say that those saying that 2-3 years isn’t a long time are younger… closer to 20 than 30. In the words of the great Lonnie Rashid Lynn, “It don’t take a whole day to recognze sunshine.”

              • mena

                Actually, I read a study where people who got engaged within 2yrs were least likely to get a divorce.

    • kittensonfire

      Nay…no ring then no commitment.
      There was never an actual engagement…
      I wouldn’t want a man who can’t even afford a ring…especially if he can’t even pay his parking tickets…#MOVEON

      • Negro Libre

        Geez…brainwashing really works.

        Read this article on diamond rings or watch Blood Diamond: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/weddings/2007/06/diamonds_are_a_girls_worst_friend.html

        The fact is when a guy proposes to you, he asks you to be his wife. The ring is simply a symbol, something you can show to the world. A guy could buy you a hundred diamond rings, but if he never asks you the “question” all those rings are simply expensive jewelry.

        • Kema

          Would you propose to a woman without a ring?

          • Negro Libre

            That’s like asking whether I would introduce a jumpoff to my mom – I would: problem is she’d probably take it as something else, so I won’t in order to avoid drama.

            If I thought I had a girl who wasn’t typical, I’d never buy her a ring after watching that Blood Diamond movie, and knowing everything I know from that Slate article.

            • chameleonic

              lol…

              ive never been big on diamonds either. not for that reason i just think theres pretty, colorful stones and gems out there so its more fun to pick something atypical.

              • Kema

                Exactly! I asked about a ring. Not a blood diamond. You could pick her favorite stone.

                • chameleonic

                  so now the question becomes, if you propose to a woman that you will be the man of her life for the decades following, when does the actual monetary provision begin if not with a (bloodless) ring?

            • Em.

              Negro Libre I think you may enjoy this article as well. “Have you ever tried to sell a diamond?” http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1982/02/have-you-ever-tried-to-sell-a-diamond/304575/

        • kittensonfire

          PLEASE give me a break…dude even can’t buy a cheap band ring?
          SHE doesn’t cares for the type, BUT a ring is apart of the package…duh!
          No ones shallow for wanting a ring…GOH with that!

          • Negro Libre

            So he should get her the ring that Norbit got his girl then, I’m sure she’ll be fine with that.

            • Kema

              The bigger question is would a man that’s in love and wants to get married be cool with that? The ring Norbit got his girl meant something.

              • Negro Libre

                Yes, but doesn’t a proposal mean something, even it is without a ring? Or does it mean nothing, without it? Does a ring mean something if it comes without a proposal?

                • chameleonic

                  it isnt the proposal. a man who is taking care of me is the man of my life and such behavior towards me is the equivalent of a proposal. the ring is more about me being a b*tch to other men like ‘you dont have it like him look at what he did for me.’ its a really nice gift. something ill cherish forever. a ring with no commitment though, no taking care of me. its empty.

                  • Negro Libre

                    Lol

                    Thank you.

  • Gem Jones

    i’m with Animate on this – a ring does not make an engagement or even marriage. the ring really is the least troublesome part of this whole situation.

    i have so many questions but in the end i suspect that he’s not really interested in marriage, although he may love her and want to be with her. it doesnt even sound like theyve actually discussed marriage – just the ring.

    marriage is about a life together. you can go to the courthouse on your lunch break and be married. if he doesnt have money for a ring after 7yrs, he doesnt have money for a wedding. and while weddings and rings dont make a marriage, if those things are important to her, she needs to find some one who has the finances to give her what she wants.

    • mena

      She’s losing out on what she can have by staying with someone who doesn’t want to marry her.

      I swear for God the ring and wedding CANNOT be that serious. People care so much about the show that they forget about the next 10, 20, 30 or more years together.

      • kittensonfire

        it kind of is…
        He can’t afford a ring? What about helping to pay for a home? car? kids?
        10,20,30 years w/out money…?

      • Brother Mouzone

        * swear for God the ring and wedding CANNOT be that serious. People care so much about the show that they forget about the next 10, 20, 30 or more years together

        Unfortunately for a lot of women these days, it’s ALLL about the SHOW, not the lifetime commitment.

  • J. Delancy

    Here is the real problem with any relationship ultimatum, if the person who issues the ultimatum back down, they will be in a weaker position than they were before. I agree with the other commenters who say the ring is the least of her worries.

  • DreadedSouth

    If you even feel the need to make an ultimatum do yourself and your mate a favor and move on. As you get older time becomes much more valuable than money and the only currency of ultimatums is time. Don’t waste it on a bad investment.

  • Shawn

    If you have to threaten to leave their is a bigger problem than having a ring. A ring is symbolic. This guy is stalling for time. I am sure she would be fine with just a 15.00 ring from Wal-Mart.

    People that usually agree to threats eventually end up resenting the person for pushing them into the decision. If you have to drag a man across the finish line then he never really wanted to run the race.

    If the goal is to get married then find someone who wants to get married. 7 years is way too long.

  • esa

    it’s not a ring. it’s not jewelry. it’s a legal contract with a man. unless you’re just planning on being engaged. which i get. yeaa. ring and no marriage. i’d throw in separate apartments too. one of us could trade in for a country house. ohh wait. this is about you. yeaa.
    .
    ultimatums are totally passive aggressive. i should know. i’ve given them. they’re cop outs. cover stories. just leave. it is so much cleaner. i mean cause imagine if you strong arm him into getting married and then it becomes unbearable and you have to get divorced .. it happens. it’s so extra. i say, know when to hold em, know when to fold em. be out.

  • I Am Your People

    Never threaten to leave. LEAVE. Do you watch The Real Housewives of Atlanta? NeNe went all the way and divorced Gregg. He’s straightened up and they’re re-marrying. He probably would have continued to take her for granted if she just kept threatening to leave but didn’t go.

    • Latonya

      hmmm true, but Gregg stay cause he does not have any money and Nene does.

      • I Am Your People

        That’s one thing I found funny about their relationship. The wealthy property manager married the stripper. Then she was on RHOA and the real estate crisis hit.

        Golddiggee becomes golddigger

  • Negro Libre

    This relationship is doomed.

    Lets be logical i.e. concerned with reality and non-contradiction. The lady said the guy proposed, meaning that he wants to get married; however he didn’t give her a ring. She said if he didn’t give her a ring in a year and “officially propose” she’d leave. If we look at the facts, the woman is already married (it’s just not legally recognized), she just wants it to be official, and if it isn’t official in a year, she’s going to abandon a guy who we can safely assume she’s already married to (the agreement between her and the guy is already set in stone). Clearly, if you’re going to leave someone because you don’t have the “symbol” that makes a proposal official, you care more about the actual symbol than the idea of the proposal or the idea of marriage as a whole (What if he gave her a ring, but didn’t propose, would she still have threatened to leave after a year?); unless of course we’re not dealing with reality.

    She should dump him and find some other dude who can best deal with her “symbolic” needs. If this dude is getting cars repossesed, borrowing money from her aunt, and struggling to get a ring for a woman who he proposed to over a year ago; he has no idea how tough things are going to be when they’re husband and wife and the hard times really begin.