Anyone else struggling with FEELING engaged while not officially engaged?

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My boyfriend and I frequently talk about getting married — to the point that we have already decided on a wedding date, a venue, bridal parties, guest list, and we've even started research on our honeymoon.

Well, I've started all the research. He has yet to pop the question — based merely on finances and affording the engagement ring we picked out. While I could happily marry this man at the courthouse with a piece of twine on my finger — I suggested it — he'd never go for it. So I'm feeling guilty about being twenty yards ahead, and he feels guilty being twenty yards behind.

I'm struggling with already FEELING engaged while not quite officially being there yet. How do I slow down this crazy wedding train?!

Anybody been there before? -R

In fact, yes, I'M currently there! I call it being engaged to be engaged. My boyfriend and I have already decided on the wedding venue, a rough idea of when we'll get married, I know I'll be getting his Bubbie's ring, and his mother and I are already scheming about details. And yet… no proposal yet. And no clue when it's coming.

For control freaks like mahself, that is so damn frustrating. I mean, exciting! But, yeah, also frustrating.

One of our favorite ways of solving this in-between madness is to just go ahead, take control and propose. But that only works if both parties will feel good about this choice. If one or both partners have very set ideas on how they want their proposal to play out, then there's no denying the awkward stage of being engaged to be engaged.

Any other in-betweeners out there? How are you sitting in the awkward stage of knowing there will be a wedding, but not being officially engaged yet?

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Comments on Anyone else struggling with FEELING engaged while not officially engaged?

  1. I went through this! My now husband and I had gone ring shopping and picked out a ring. And he purchased the setting for it that day. And then it was like three months before he proposed. So it was three months of limbo where I wanted to move forward. We didn’t have quite the same level of preparedness as you, but I did a lot of research. I made a rad spreadsheet of vendors, pricing, and availability. This was pre-pinterests (thank god, pinterest is the devil) but I had folders on the computer with inspiration images in them titled “winter theme” “victorian theme” “forest theme” as well as “dresses” “hairstyles” etc. I had tentative guest list and knew who I wanted in my bridal party.

    So when he popped the question I was ready to go. We started visiting venues right away and within a few weeks had everything booked from the venue to the dj.

    One thing I will note, I did not actually go and visit or meet face-to-face with any vendors before I was officially engaged. I was pretty sure that would cross my line between type-a preparedness and crazy town.

  2. I am there now, and probably will be for a while. Our finances are preventing even a ring, let alone the wedding itself, but it’s been almost 6 years and I’m beyond ready to take the next step. My partner is ready too, but not as gungho as I am – he’s a much more laid back person.
    At the moment I’m dealing with it by living vicariously through engaged friends, and completely detoxing from any activities dedicated mostly to weddings. I still follow a few of my fave photographers on instagram, and a few of my favourite venues on Facebook – as well as OBB of course – but the only way I can deal with wedding media without going all ‘Type A’ is if it’s diluted into other media I’m already consuming anyway. My borderline obsession with ‘pre-planning’ was driving a wedge between FH and I, and that was the absolute last thing I wanted. I all but quit pinterest, even though I love it, and I stopped using micro-blogging platforms like tumblr (this was part of a larger life decision, but happened around the same time as it had turned into just another platform for wedding porn.)

  3. I have this problem. What do you call the man you are engaged to be engaged to? I hate the terms boyfriend and girlfriend. He isn’t a boy, and I am not a girl! I have a promise ring, so I feel like we are beyond the dating stage, but I have to restrain myself from really laying down plans for our eventual wedding; especially because the date I want is in 2018 which is much too far away to put most wedding details in stone. I asked my cousin to be my matron of honor, and asked her about color schemes. She said it’s too early for me to be thinking about these things, but I can’t help it! I love day dreaming about our wedding and I need to know my color scheme to really visualize things. I just hope all my premature daydreaming won’t jinx anything for my significant other and me.

    • In Puerto Rico we called the preliminary stage with a promise ring “pre-compromiso” which literally means pre-engagement. It’s an actual thing, but I don’t think it has any guidelines, and it unfortunately doesn’t seem to have titles of its own beyond the usual boyfriend/girlfriend. Promise rings are, from what I observed, a very nice way of showing that you take someone seriously even though you’re not otherwise prepared for marriage. I wore mine for 8 years before he finally proposed, but for most of those years we’ve felt and acted pretty much married.

    • My partner and I had the same problem with labels. We dated for nearly 9 years before we could live together, because I choose the slightly insane route of Peace Corps- out of state PhD. We visited each other as often as we could and lived together over summers. It started to feel weird calling him my boyfriend. I worried that my adviser and others wouldn’t take us seriously if I talked about passing up a grant to put in summer time with my boyfriend. He worried that his boss wouldn’t understand that his girlfriend would be his emergency contact etc. Boyfriend/Girlfriend just sounded juvienal. We started calling each other “life partners”. It actually solved a whole bunch of problems and sounded much more serious. 🙂 We’re married now, but still use the term “partner”.

  4. I’m there right now.
    He’s found out my ring size, seen ideas of the kinds of ring I like.

    He even passes comment on dresses and flowers etc. he sees me looking at, despite how discreet I think I’m being. We’ve got a rough date planned but all he keeps saying is “Wait and see!” He knows I’ve been engaged before and that I knew every exact detail of that proposal before it happened. I appreciate that he wants to keep his proposal a complete surprise but it’s making me feel like I’m being crazy putting together ideas already before he’s even bought a ring.

    • Girl, I am right there and I’ve decided we aren’t crazy. We’re ORGANIZED. We’ll be able to get the ball rolling quickly, snatch up our vendors and venue and not have that general moment of sticker shock because we’ve already figured out what we like and what we can actually afford. We’re here, we’re informed and we’re ready to plan a wedding!

    • Girl, I am totally there. Last Year, my boyfriend told Me, that “Baby, I Love You, but I’m. not ready for No Weddings, or Engagements”. Now, that We’ve been Together, for 2 Years, and 9 months, My Boyfriend. is saying,”We’re Not going to the Altar tomorrow, But, We’ll get ther”… My Boyfriend is just Now, able to talk about Wedding Stuff, after being Together, 2 years and 9 months. This will be his 1st Wedding, and My 2nd.
      Anyone else, in the same boat, as I Am???

  5. We went as far as booking the venue before he popped the question. I did feel somewhat self conscious about not really being engaged while looking at wedding venues. He did however, get my grandmother’s ring fixed up for me as a promise ring and a place holder until he actually got to proposing.

    When we finally did get engaged a few months later, I called my dad to tell him the news. His reaction was so lame. He was like, well you were already engaged, so whatever. Thanks Dad!

    • Exactly the same! Have venue and no proposal and paying on dresses colors picked and firm date. No ring! No place holder nothing. I feel crazy doing all this preparation and no real engagement. Kinda sad when people say oh let me see your ring.

  6. I bought myself a ring. No marriage in sight for the next ever. Soooo…
    I’ve also been in the position of knowing that a wedding would happen ~*someday*~ and wanting to get the engagement train rolling. It really took a good, solid talk about why we were in different places for me to calm the eff down–by which I mean stop wringing my hands about it and start just enjoying messing around on wedding websites without guilt or without emotional weirdness.

    • I posted a comment below before I saw yours here – but I definitely had to have a “come-to-Jesus” moment recently about not being in the same place re: future plans. I have since just all but stopped looking at wedding related stuff because it initially made me really sad now that I know we’re not where I thought we were. But I also love your suggestion re: just getting over it and enjoying it for the fun, kind of escapist daydream it is.

      • It definitely requires a change in mindset. For me–and I know this sounds weird–it required thinking about the wedding Pins and ideas completely separate from my partner and more like a hypothetical wedding, maybe like how a wedding planner might look at wedding ideas. Like, WOW FANCE that’s so cool for somebody! I really like that.

        • I do this!
          Sure I have my ideas for my wedding, note I said “my” 😉 of course, my partner and I plan to get engaged and we’ve discussed the basics around the wedding but I like to daydream about them so, for now, my favourite is “my” wedding and not “ours” (that technicality keeps me sane). Also any other ideas I come across I keep in mind for if one of my friends should ask for help one day as I can be handy when organising events 🙂

      • I *wish* I had had this conversation with my ex. We had agreed on a wedding date, but he didn’t propose for another 6 months. It was only in the counsellor’s office, 2 years after we got married and after I had left, that he told me that in his mind, talking about a wedding date still didn’t mean he was definitely going to propose. Of course there were other much bigger problems, but I would have saved myself a lot of heartache and wondering what was going on if we had had the talk.

  7. The idea that the ring or the formal question is what makes your relationship somehow different than it was before has always kind of bothered me — I even had a co-worker tell me that my relationship “wasn’t 100% yet” because, even though my boyfriend had moved to a new state with me when I got a job, we weren’t planning a wedding yet. I was like, “WTF, dude? Who are you to tell me how cemented my relationship is? The lack of wedding planning is not because we’re not 100% committed, it’s because we just don’t want to be planning a wedding yet.”

    As long as you are on the same page, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with planning ahead or starting to make decisions or anything like that. Who cares what constitutes “official”? Your relationship is what you want it to be not what conventions say it is. So if you’ve agreed on the date and venue you want and those things are important to you, then go put a deposit down and consider yourself as engaged as you wanna be. Those things get snatched up quickly and no one is going to check to see that you have a ring before they’ll let you sign the contract.

    If you can’t start making commitments for whatever reason — money or waiting until you’re done with school or whatever — there’s nothing wrong with saving pictures to your Pinterest board and making lists of ideas/priorities (when it is time to pull the trigger you’ll be grateful for the advance research!) Start a wedding fund and make contributions to it if you can, so that it feels like you’re making progress. And know that it’s okay to periodically have a check-in conversation where you say, “This is where I want to be, when do you think we will get there?” If his response is “wait and see!” and you find that frustrating, it’s okay to tell him that you would feel better with a firmer answer.

    In the meantime, I don’t think you should feel bad or describe yourself as crazy because you want to start planning a wedding to a man you know you’re going to marry. All that does is put undue stress on you, and possibly on your partner. Remind yourself that rings don’t make the relationship. If you have friends and family pestering you about when it’s going to happen, politely tell them to step the eff off. The two of you know you are committed, the two of you know it’ll happen one day, and that is the only thing that matters.

    • Jessica~, I totally. agree with you, wholeheartedly.
      We’re not engaged yet, and my boyfriend hasn’t met my parent’s yet. But my parent’s being snoopy, and saw my Wedding Magazines laying around, and my Mom said, Well, there won’t be Any of those”..(Weddings).. I just barely now, reserved My Ministers/Officiant, and when You said, “the Rings don’t make the Relationship, the People do”, I agree with You. My Boyfriend works Overnights, at a Hotel, and Guests that stay at his hotel, have been making “Sexual Passes”, at My Boyfriend. So, I decided to get a ring, to “Solidify” our Relationship..The Ring I got for him, is an actual Wedding Band, and he’s getting anxious to see it, and make sure it fits him.
      People need to “butt-out”, of other’s Relationships, especially if it doesn’t concern them. But when you said, that “People Make the Relationship”, I agree with that.

  8. Wow I have a different experience of this – it’s been over four years, we lived together for two, and sure, I want to get engaged and I’ve planned what sort of dress/ring/venue/music/decor/EVERYTHING I would like in a notebook and on a Pinterest board…but it’s a joint Pinterest board, and every decision has been made with him, and he wants it as much as I do. He would love to propose. The problem? We are ‘millenials’ both working minimum wage part time jobs whilst applying to jobs in the industries we actually want to make careers in (arts and heritage, for which in the uk the funding is cut on a daily basis). We live with our parents several counties apart. It bugs me when people say you can get married on a shoestring if you ‘really want it’: even if we did that, we’d have to live with one set of parents or the other in order to live together, which is what our one set of married friends our age are having to do, and they ain’t happy about it. It’s not worth bankrupting our already shallow bank accounts just to say husband instead of boyfriend. But yep – it feels like limbo, and it sucks.

    • I think a lot of people don’t realise that even a registry office wedding costs as much as a month’s rent, or food, or all your bills combined. And working in arts and heritage… I entirely feel you on that one. Any job that’s not in a national is at risk, and so are most of the nationals.

      • Holy cats! I just did a little googlin’, and I had NO IDEA how much a bare-bones “it’s enough to be legal” wedding/marriage cost in the UK. (The necessary out-of-pocket money for me here, in Oregon, in the US, is $60. You can have a friend officiate if they’re ordained by a registered church from the internet. It doesn’t have to be done anywhere special. That’s it.) Oof.

        • Oregon here! I had a very disappointing conversation with my boyfriend over the course of a few days this week. I have to admit I’m distraught. After summoning up my courage over the course of weeks, I asked if he was still interested in getting married. In an 8 year relationship, this has come up before. What I learned is that, although he is very committed to me and there is no one else for him, he is not sure about getting married. He has been extremely Supportive of me this winter during a very difficult time for me. I felt that committing to each other publicly was a natural next step. There may be financial complications if we marry. We talked about having a ceremony without the legal part. The conclusion at this time is he doesn’t want to be get married until we are getting along better. I am sad.

      • A registry marriage does not have to cost that much at all if you only have 4 guests and can put up with getting married in an office, it costs £45 for the registrar and £35 for each of you when you give notice to be married.
        £115 in total is achievable with a bit of saving, and that is what we are doing.

    • I’m in London and even though many around me are starting to get engaged, my partner and i have no future plans to get married as we barely have enough money for living as it is! We aren’t that fussed about getting married, but i do have wild ideas of my wedding and i hope to be ‘young’ when it happens! I know i want my grannie there’s a time limit there but I think having my own place where I can paint murals on the wall and have a little dog is more important. Yes weddings cost alot in the uk!! My partner’s brother is getting married next month and theyve kept the budget at around £4000, thats considered insanely cheap, it’s taken them 2 years to save for it aswell!

    • Hi Stephy. I Am in the exact same boat, as You. I work, 2 part-time Minimum Wage jobs, and my Boyfriend works Overnights, making over $12/hr. We’re not engaged Yet, but, We already have Our Wedding Colors picked out, and Our Cake, picked out. I’ve been Married before, but My Now boyfriend, has not yet even thought about what My Ring size IS, or has not yet even thought about Ring Shopping. When you said something, about “having to Live with Parents”, that is the Struggle, that My Boyfriend and I havem I Live with My Parents, not by Choice(my Grandparents died. and I live in their house). So, I Live with My Parents, and My Boyfriend lives in Another City, with his Mom. I can totally understand, where you are coming from, with the Part-time jobs, and living with Parents….I Have these, black, red, and Gold Ribbon, but do You have any thoughts, or Ideas, how I could Use it, to Decorate with?,

  9. I had thought I was in this place, but then recently had a conversation with my partner where we discovered we aren’t quite on the same page right now – i.e. that, while he loves me, I’m definitely “further along” than he is/ready to take the next step and he isn’t quite there (yet).

    So I just wanted to put in a quick note for anyone out there who might be thinking they’re in this space but hasn’t had a direct conversation with their partner about it (unlike the post above and most of the commenters): I really recommend having that conversation before you go crazy on Pinterest or reading wedding blogs, etc. I had kind of convinced myself a proposal was somewhat imminent (like within a year) and started Pinning and reading and daydreaming more than I had before (I think a little of that is going to happen regardless). And then it was a real hard come-down when I found out we weren’t where I thought we were and I think it would’ve still been a wake-up call, but not quite the disappointment that it was, had I not been basically planning our future wedding.

    So that’s my perspective and two cents!

    • Really good insight! I’m definitely in the same boat. We’ve been together for 5 years and I’ve BEEN ready. But when I ask about it, he usually says, “well, I wasn’t thinking anytime /soon/”

      While, yeah, it’s disappointing, it’s much better to know where your partner stands, rather than thinking you should be expecting something and waiting and waiting for something that’s not going to happen any time soon.

      • It’s so funny because I was looking for insights and material on this kind of problem and a lot of what I was finding online was kind of “how to sink your hooks into your man and make him marry you!” or “how to get over the fact that he will never want to marry you and move on!” neither of which are interesting, helpful, or what I am going for. Haha.

        But I do want to hear from other women who are in this same position or have similar struggles with their partner and I wish there were more resources for how to handle it when, in an otherwise loving relationship, one partner wants marriage and one doesn’t (or just doesn’t yet). I think it’s way more common than I previously thought!

        • Heyyo, checking in from the same situation! Boyfriend and I had many talks starting with the “is going anywhere”, followed by “I could imagine marrying you in the future”, along with “do you want kids and how many, good our ranges overlap”, and were on the same page for all of them. Only disagreement was he said he wanted to live together before getting engaged, which I was hesitant about (my family is pretty conservative, and he makes a ton more money than I do so I wouldn’t be able to carry the rent alone if something happened), but agreed to for him. So at about a year and half I asked if he was ready to move in together that summer and got a hard NO, and found out he was considering jobs out of state that would force us to do long distance. That sucked, I was really angsty and no fun to be friends with for like a month. Anyway, long story long, he did end up taking a long distance job for about 8 months, it sucked and made him realize he really wanted to be in our current city and with me, we moved in together last August, and I’m dying for a ring. Personally I decided that if he hasn’t proposed within one year of living together, I’m moving out and we’re done. He doesn’t know his DDay is August 1: he knows I have a timeline in my head of when things need to happen by, but doesn’t know the exact timeline. But yeah, I can attest it is hard when you know you want to be with that person forever and they aren’t ready to say the same thing. For me, having a deadline has been really crucial for my sanity. I have known for over a year that he’s the guy I want to be married to: if it’s going to take him more than 4 years to realize the same about me, I don’t want to marry that guy. So my decision making is done, which keeps me calm.
          We’re going to do a premarital counseling book together soon though, so that’s progress! I felt like we had learned all we could from living together, he concurred and added that it was going well, so I said I want to be proactive about moving forward, here’s a suggestion. He agreed, and it only took a single reminder for him to pick one from my list of suggestions. Maybe that’s an idea for any women in limbo out there? Like it’s fine if you say you need more time, but let’s use this time intentionally to get ready for marriage.

          • When we had the conversation where I found out we weren’t in the same place about the relationship, he initially was really hesitant to give me feedback and on how we could work on the relationship, which was very frustrating to me because I felt like “if you’re going to tell me you don’t think we’re ready, you have to tell me why” – but he just didn’t want to seem like he was saying all the problems were me or to pick apart my flaws.

            I did get him to give me a few tidbits and I’ve been working on things since then. A big part of it for me has been realizing that I can only control me – I can only make changes on my end, and there are some things about myself that I can’t change (or don’t want to!). But I can try to be a better partner and recognize where my weaknesses are and work on THOSE.

            I haven’t set a firm timeline, but I just kind of have it in the back of my mind that I am choosing him and choosing to be here every day and I have confidence that if I reach a point where I am DONE I will know it and I can leave then if it comes to that. Right now I am reasonably content to wait for him to feel ready or to feel we are ready, but that was not the case for the first few days after that conversation. I had a real feeling of crisis around what it all meant, but have since come to realize I really do have some things to work on and so have been focusing on that. And the upside is I get to keep that progress on myself as a partner and as a person, even if we don’t end up together (although I very much hope we do).

          • If you want to marry him, why can’t you pop the question and get him a ring? The ball isnt only in his court, if you know what you want, go for it.

  10. I am 1000% here – as in, I know the ring has been ordered and that the shift from “girlfriend” to “fiance” should be within the next month. My boyfriend, bless him, understands that as a serial planner, I hate not knowing a general path for my future. So, to keep me sane, he’s been as open as he can while still holding onto his dream of surprising me with the actual proposal, including giving a general time frame.

    But, while this is sweet as pie, it doesn’t quite keep the excitement quiet. So, I’ve dealt with this a couple of ways – one, my fella and I have discussed it and I can talk about weddings all I want, to a point. Once he hits his limit for that moment, he’s allowed to call for a cease and desist until a later time. Second, I’ve indulged my planning side – after all there is no harm in figuring out what styles you may like, vendors you’d be interested in or dresses you’d like, right? Of course, by that I mean, I have an organized and detailed spreadsheet that maps out a primary and a secondary option with projected budgets and vendors. He knows (and likes) all of the general ideas I’ve pitched, but the actual spreadsheet? That, I smartly have kept to myself for now.

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