You’ve seen celebrity clinical psychologist Dr. Sherry Blake, author of The Single Married Woman: True Stories of Why Women Feel All Alone in Their Marriages, keep the Braxton sisters calm on the hit show Braxton Family Values. Now it’s your turn to sit in her chair…

Q: I have been with my boyfriend for a year and a half now. He brings up an engagement ring every week, but he hasn’t asked me to marry him yet. When he brings it up, I just look at him and smile. I make more money than he does, and now I don’t know if he is manipulating me into thinking that he is going to propose or not. I’ve set a timeline of two and a half years and if there’s no proposal, I’m walking. I’m starting to think that he doesn’t have any money for the ring, so he’s just buying time. Or, what if he’s using me? What do you think? Help.

A: Mentioning an engagement ring may be his way of trying to keep you happy and in the relationship. As long as he dangles the idea of marriage in front of you without actually producing a ring or a marriage proposal, you are left questioning his sincerity or intent. After a year and a half, it is time to have a serious conversation about the future of your relationship. Rather than just looking at him and smiling when he mentions an engagement ring, take that opportunity to begin a discussion about marriage and other things.

Your boyfriend’s financial status sounds like an underlying issue for you. The fact that he makes less money than you may or may not be a problem for him, but it clearly is for you. The topic of money should definitely be discussed before an engagement or a marriage. You need to know each others’ feelings about money, especially the fact that you make more than he does. This is an issue that can rip a relationship apart if it is not addressed. Many people have a problem with the woman making more in the relationship. Hopefully, you do not flaunt it or remind him that you make more money. Money may be playing a role in him buying you a ring. But, he could have you a ring in layaway and paying on it! Be careful and avoid getting too hung up on the fact that he has not given you a ring. I would be more concerned with questioning if he is ready for a marriage. Your expectations of a proposal in two and a half years are realistic. That is enough time for both of you to know if you want to commit to marriage. If you decide that this relationship is not going in the direction you want, please do not wait two and a half years to leave. even if he has given you a ring. Remember, the ring does not mean a thing if other core values are not in place. Think about it. — Dr Sherry

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