Why Some Men Won’t Propose and What to Do about It


Men’s Most Common “Reasons” for Not Marrying

Understanding these Common “Reasons”

Reasonable Reasons

What’s a Girl to Do about It?


The marriage age is going up. Both men and women are taking their time to solidify their careers or postpone the decision indefinitely by living together. For women who are considering having children, that biological clock starts ticking louder and louder as women age. Men’s reasons for not proposing have a lot to do with age and lifestyle. What’s a woman to do if she wants to marry?

First, take a look at the most common “reasons” men give for not moving on to marriage.

Men’s Most Common “Reasons” for Not Marrying

  1. We haven’t known each other long enough (said after more than two years of dating)
  2. I really want my parents to come around to liking you
  3. I don’t want to upset my parents right now
  4. I want to wait for the next next job promotion
  5. I still can’t afford it—after a long time of dating
  6. I don’t want a family so soon (or maybe never)
  7. Somehow, even though I won’t tell you, I just don’t think you’re the right one
  8. And, somehow, even though I won’t tell you, I’m afraid of marriage/commitment
  9. And, finally, somehow, even though I won’t tell you, you’re gorgeous and fun and hot in bed and pay your own way—and that’s enough for now.
  10. I’ve got to settle issues with my ex and the kids.

Understanding the “Reasons”

Most of these reasons have something to do with the trio of money, job security and self-confidence. Men do need time to develop these issues—but they don’t need a lifetime. Other reasons are related to life phase such as divorce and psychological immaturity/maturity—which age may not affect. The list below elaborates on some of these key topics.

  1. Professional men who are under 34 are still career-focused and may not feel financially prepared to take on marriage and family. In addition, since a high number of these men grew up in families of divorce and single parents, they see marriage as an “iffy” step. They know the success rate is low. They might not have faith in women, love, themselves and the world in general. Parental divorce can provoke negative ideas and fears about all these issues.
  2. Men in their forties who are divorced with children may have fears of getting divorced again. Second divorces, especially when there are step-children, have even higher divorce rates than first-time divorces. If one of the partners has a problem child, if the step children don’t get along or if the woman wants children and the man doesn’t want any more—well, then you got just the kind of problems that make men head for the door.
  3. Later in life divorced men may not want a repeat performance so quickly of what they experienced as jail in their first longer term marriages. These men often want to turn back the clock to when they first got married and experience a “do-over.” This do-over might include finding the Right One, but it might also include playing the field and living it up—especially if the man has money that he didn’t have before. Other issues at this stage in life are objections from the grown children.
  4. Finally—and equally importantly, the match just might not be right.

Reasonable Reasons

A few men might need a nudge—if it’s a “reasonable reason.” Here are a few key ones.

  1. It’s too soon after Mom’s death. The recent death of a parent or other important caregiver is often a good reason to wait before deciding to marry. These deaths might push a person to marry too soon—or too unwisely.
  2. My job is up in the air. Waiting for job stability is important. Some jobs require moves to different cities. Other positions may not pay enough to do things such as buy a house.
  3. I want to finish my schooling—or at least most of it. Although many married couples are in the process of completing education, studying can be very stressful. It’s difficult to establish a relationship foundation during the first year of marriage.

The point is that these reasons are usually time-limited and for major, clearly visible and understandable reasons to self and others.

What’s a Girl to Do about It?

So the BIG question of the day is: Why would a woman want a man who is unsure of his feelings, maturity and life phase? No woman should ever have to “drop hints” or send “smoke signals.”

My advice to these women? Try the following approaches. Of course, there is never any guarantee that these will work. If no progress, show yourself the door.

  1. BACK OFF in general from talking about marriage. Don’t ask “where is this relationship going?” for the hundredth time.
  2. Give the relationship perhaps some more time—especially if the reasonable reasons above are part of the problem. Work on those issues.
  3. If the reasons have to do with job, work, career and money security, talk to your partner about YOUR life plans, timetable and goals. He’ll most likely tell you about his. If not, ask him. Let him hear himself think out loud. You now have a platform to discuss the future without it seeming to be about the two of you. These kinds of discussions will give you more information about your man.
  4. If the reasons have to do with exes and children, ask your partner what the ideal future situation would look like. See whether it involves a woman—not necessarily you. Ask him about what he wants for his children and family. Just listen.
  5. If the reasons have to do with things that just don’t make sense to you, ask for more clarity.

As you can see, once you have clarity on the issues, you will have a better understanding of whether to hang in there and wait—or move on. Your best temporary strategy is to wait, learn, listen, evaluate—so you don’t have to chip away at him with the marriage question.

This article first appeared in www.helpstartshere.org, the award winning consumer website of the National Association of Social Workers. In the Contributors box at the top far right, write my name, Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, click and all my articles will appear.

*** For Women Only: If you would like to be part of Dr. Wish’s research for her next book on women’s love relationships and get one hour of FREE counseling, go to her website and click in the Research box in the upper right and take the online research survey. Be sure to include you contact information and the word SELFGROWTH so that Dr. Wish can contact you.

Author's Bio: 

LeslieBeth Wish is a Psychologist, Clinical Social Worker and author who is nationally recognized for her contributions to women, love, relationships, family, career, workplace, and organizations.

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