Every woman dreams of having a ring on her finger, right? It goes a little something like this:
You meet the man of your dreams.
You fall in love.
You discuss the future, start to build your life by making plans with one another, and perhaps you may have even made the relationship “official” by moving in together or buying a shared pet. And you think from there, it’s going to be happily ever after. That is of course, once he proposes right? But two years have gone by, then five, then seven, and you start to wonder, “is this ever going to happen?”
We’ve all been there at some point in our dating lives: we get to the mark when we’re wondering, “When is he finally going to pop the question?” It’s the ultimate waiting game.
Long-term relationships are typically the pathway to marriage and beyond. So when we get in one, it’s natural for us to begin thinking about the future, and lift after the ring. However, not all men have marriage on their mind, at least not without some pushing and prodding on our end to help them get us through the finish line. And I’m finding that as I get older (I just turned 30), I find myself and many of my still single friends discussing the simple question: how long is too long to wait before marriage? And why do we – as Black women – wait so long?
ABC News writer Joi-Marie McKenzie, and author of The Engagement Game, says there’s no one size fits all reason to explain why a woman waits. “In my memoir, The Engagement Game, I write about waiting for my boyfriend of five years to propose,” she says. “Now, during that time we had talked about getting married and having kids and those conversations gave me hope enough to hold out and continue waiting. And I think that’s true for most women in relationships — when you’re in love and the person you’re with is open to having those conversations, then you think there’s a chance this might actually happen so I’ll wait.”
A major factor is also the fact that as Black women, we are so caught up in the fact that we are in a relationship, and what we are “getting” that we simply give away everything that we have as well. Why should men buy the horse when they can get the milk for free? We’re giving up sex, and providing the commitment and stability that are rooted in marriage that sometimes men don’t find it necessary to pop the question. If we’re already playing house, why should he think he has to build one?
McKenzie also has another idea about the wait.
“I’ve spoken to hundreds of women about their relationships and most wait when they haven’t set their intentions for their relationship early on,” she says. “If you’re going into a relationship without saying, “I”m dating intentionally. I’m dating to marry” then oftentimes you’re waiting. And it could be because you started off the relationship as friends, or friends with benefits, or you didn’t think you’d like the person as much as you do!”
At the end of the day, the journey is yours. So if you’re uncomfortable or unhappy in your relationship or with the wait, it’s time to be intentional, map out a plan and above all: communicate with your partner.