Dear Love Rabbi,
I’ve been dating Josh for three years now. He’s everything I’ve always wanted. There’s just one problem: he’s non-committal. I keep on bringing it up and he changes the subject, or he’ll say something like “We haven’t made enough money yet” or “I don’t know.” Even worse, he’ll turn it into a joke. He keeps on telling me he’s not ready and he doesn’t know when he’s going to be ready. I’m 34 now and I kind of want a ring already. Can’t he ask me already? Do you have any words of advice for me?
A study came out a few years ago showing that, by the age of 35, the average woman would have said “Yes” to four of her boyfriends had they proposed to her. How crazy is that? Why can’t you just get a guy to commit?
For years, the Jewish community has been focused on intermarriage. I think we need to switch that focus to marriage. We’re simply not getting married anymore. Our entire society is “seeing each other.” It’s not even called “dating” anymore. We’re just seeing each other, and who knows? Tomorrow, eyes may shift and I’ll “see” someone else.
We are the “Facebook maybe” generation. We can’t even commit to what we are doing in 10 minutes from now, let alone 10 months or 10 years. If a relationship develops, we often have no idea what to do next.
Maybe your boyfriend doesn’t know what marriage looks like. Maybe he comes from a divorced home and doesn’t have a positive role model for relationships. Maybe he needs a kick in the tuchis.
That’s why I think it’s so important to have someone coaching the relationship. Sometimes it takes an outside party to coax someone along and tell him or her, “It’s OK. Marriage is awesome!”
We should also not get so focused on why a man isn’t committing that we forget to ask if he is really the right choice. I see so many women today wasting their time with guys who don’t want to get married. They wait and wait, hoping that, magically, one day, he’s just going to propose. Eventually, they get fed up and move on.
If Josh is afraid to talk about the future, or if he’s waiting to be more financially secure, why do you think this will change anytime soon? If he is changing the subject or making jokes, it’s a sign that he may not be ready for a serious relationship.
As much as I love to see a happy ending, it’s not all about the proposal or the ring on your finger. It’s about two people wanting to build a life together.
Your boyfriend is doing what I often call “dating to death.” He is going to string this relationship along until it crashes. And right now, you’re helping him.
I would recommend some age-old Jewish wisdom: Tell him you want to take a break for a week. He can’t call you, email you or see you. Be firm, not dramatic (this isn’t the movies). You’re taking time to see if you really miss each other, if you feel that there is a part of yourself missing without the other.
If after a week you miss him and he misses you, then go out to dinner and have a serious conversation about where your relationship is headed. If you really think at that point that he’s still “the one,” then I suggest you propose to him. After all, isn’t this a world of equality?
Remember, not making a choice is also a choice.
Rabbi Yisroel Bernath is the rabbi of Chabad NDG and the Jewish chaplain at Concordia University. He lives in Montreal with his wife, Sara, and their four children.
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