Why Did The Romance End After He Proposed?

a couple on bed ending romance after the proposal

Evan, please help me with my problem. I was in a horrible marriage for 23 years. After a painful divorce I tried Match.com and met — I thought — a terrific guy. He swept me off my feet. We are in our 50’s. Sex was fantastic — it was like I was in high school. He texted me, wrote me notes, sent flowers, etc., etc. I think you know the story…

We have been together two years now. We are exclusive and he asked me to marry him 3 months ago. “Of course,” I said, but ever since that day, to me, our relationship has been horrible and I cry all the time. He never texts me, calls me, sends flowers or cards… no nothing. He now is telling me I demand too much sex and pushes me off him. He says we will marry when he is ready which is 2 years (once he has paid off his ex-wife’s debts).

When I ask him what happened to the texts, Facebook messages, and cards, he says he no longer needs to do that and that we will be married when he is ready. My heart is broken and I just don’t understand. Please help me understand how to deal with this. I am like a lovesick teen. I cry, try to hug him and he pushes me off. If he does not want me, why give me a beautiful ring? Please help me. Thank you. —Lee

Dear Lee,

I’m very sorry to hear your story. I am not going to say anything to make you feel better. I am not going to try to fix things. I am simply going to tell you (my version of) the truth.

Get out. Get out now.

I know that’s really hard to hear, because of three things:

1) He swept you off your feet and provided a spark that you so desperately needed after a horrible 23-year marriage.
2) You spent two years with him and got a proposal out of it. That’s a significant time investment and deep sunk costs.
3) If you get out now, you’re going to have to admit that he’s the wrong man, start over, and risk a few more years wandering the wilderness of Match.com. Not exactly an appealing option.

Except it’s a better option than what you have now.

No matter how good you may have once had it, your fiancé would make a terrible husband.


So instead of being focused on the three things I listed above, instead of longing for the first few months of your dreamy relationship, instead of fantasizing what could have been if he were only a different person, how about you pay attention to these facts:

1) He never texts, calls, sends flowers or cards.
2) He pushes you off him when you want sex.
3) He is delaying marriage by (at least) 2 years.
4) He believes he no longer has to be thoughtful to you now that you’re his fiancé.
5) He doesn’t seem to be remotely concerned about your needs.

This is all the evidence I need to say that, no matter how good you may have once had it, your fiancé would make a terrible husband.

And you’re far better off starting over to find a good man than to dig your heels in to try to change this selfish douche into a good man.

I’m not expecting that your road, post-breakup, will be easy or fun.

But I do expect you to make a full and happy recovery.

However, if you continue to suffer through this relationship and convince this callous man to marry you, I cannot say the same thing.

Good luck.

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  1. 1

    This is my first time commenting on this site although I read it faithfully.   I completely agree with Evan.   If anything you being willing to walk away to wake the guy up to either change or for you both to see that the relationship won’t improve. I can relate to seeing the proposal/marriage as the goal, but have slowly come to realize that the goal is a happy, healthy relationship.   It sounds like you don’t have the latter.   Good luck!

    1. 1.1

      Omg. I used to think the same way and realized the same after a bad relationship similar to this story…..

  2. 2

    It’s funny, every time I hear a story about a woman getting “swept off her feet” it usually ends   with her taking a fall from a very high height. The big bang seems to end in whimpers. Instead I advocate women seek the kind of love that “sneaks up on you” rather than the “swept off your feet” kind.

    1. 2.1
      Katrina Conrad

      I totally agree David. I was on a few dating sites and several men swept me off my feet temporarily, but when I looked at their character, I decided I wasn’t attracted to the whole package. I am now in an exclusive relationship with a man I met at a meet up. He is not someone I was instantly attracted to but he was funny and fun to be around. We have had some amazing conversations and are just enjoying to get to know each other. We both want a best friend and are working on that relationship before the sex. The attraction and love I have for this man is growing stronger every day. We see each other 3 times a week and it is not perfect, but perfect for us. (I am in my 50s and have never felt so comfortable with a man!) Stay true to yourself!!

    2. 2.2

      Great advice. Thanks.

  3. 3

    This is interesting. So he did a total 180 the minute he slid that ring on your finger? That just sounds…odd. Either way, Evan nailed it.

  4. 4

    Whew!…Brilliant response Evan. i was little worried bc sometimes you surprise me! This is stellar advice. i hope she takes it.

    1. 4.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      Yes, Lily, advice is much more pleasant when it validates what you already feel instead of challenging you to see things through a different lens.

  5. 5

    Sounds like Lee’s boyfriend is still angry at his ex. After all, he can’t marry Lee until after he has paid off the ex’s debts, at least 2 more years. I wouldn’t agree to that stalling tactic. I understand that she is devastated, but it’s time to take control of the situation. At the very least, tell him no marriage or engagement unless he is willing to go to therapy. If he refuses, then she can walk away knowing she tried to make it work. The worst case scenario is that he’s a good boyfriend, but a lousy husband, and that’s why his first marriage tanked. Best to know that sooner, rather than later.

  6. 6

    whoa painful to read – and he kept up the act for 2 years!!!!

  7. 7
    Jackie Holness

    Wow, that’s sad…but better before the wedding than after the wedding…engaged is NOT married…

  8. 8
    Karl R

    While I agree that this situation (as described) warrants Evan’s advice, I’m wondering if we’re seeing enough of the picture.
    Lee said: (original post)
    “He now is telling me I demand too much sex and pushes me off him.”
    “We are in our 50”²s.”
    “I am like a lovesick teen.”
    “I cry all the time.”
    Over two years, it’s normal for the frequency of sex to decrease by around 50%. (That’s an average, and I don’t have the study in front of me, so I can’t be more precise.)
    The average onset of perimenopause is 51 (but can actually start 10+ years before or after that). Mood swings don’t always occur, but they happen for a significant number of women. So does a substantial increase in sex drive.
    I’m wondering if that’s playing a large contributing role in the current problems. If Lee’s libido suddenly skyrocketed (and exceeded her fiance’s ability to keep up), that might explain part of his reaction.
    It’s entirely possible that menopause isn’t part of the equation. (My wife went through it long before she reached Lee’s age.) Even if it is part of the problem, it’s possible that her fiance’s behavior still isn’t justified/reasonable. But it’s something Lee might want to consider before making her decision.

  9. 9

    Sorry, but we have only heard one side of the story here. This is not to say that Lee is at fault in any way, but that her perspective and take on the relationship may have been quite different from that of her man.
    On the face of it, Lee seems to expect a very “romantic”, exciting, heady romance of the young love/teenage sort, one in which the loved one shows constant attention and flattery, even after two years together. Her man on the other hand, seems jaded, cynical and at his age (both their ages in fact) seems to be after a more sedate, utilitarian, functional no frills type relationship. The fact that he still has to pay off an ex-wife’s debt suggest that he may not have been that keen on another marriage to begin with, but had caved under heavy emotional pressure to propose.
    The fact that he pushes her way when she cries and tries to hug him is a red flag, but this could have come about after she had used tears on numerous occassions in the past to emotionally pressure him into doing things he wasn’t happy or comfortable with, and he was just sick of it. I know of many many men who seem callous in this way, but this scratch beneathe the surface and you find men who are rebelling against what they see as constant emotional blackmail.
    Sure, Lee should break up with him, not because he is necesarily a bastard, but that given their differences on this matter, any marriage between them would be a disaster. And there does not appear to be any feasible way this relationship could move forward.
    Lee should look for someone who views relationships and romance as she does, and to try to overcome whatever emotional baggage she has to be less needy. Realise that a lot of men her age or older are no longer “romantics” but tired, jaded, cynical and in some cases hostile, particularly after a nasty divorce. These men are really not ready for dating but do so to meet emotional needs that may not have been met for a very very long time, and which they are clueless about on how to obtain from a woman.

  10. 10

    She should get a toy boy ’cause he’s 50 and that’s not far from being an old man.

  11. 11

    I’m so sorry this man has done a complete 180 on you, but I’m so happy that, if it had to happe, it happened now before the wedding as opposed to after. You had some good times with this man, but not everything is meant to last forever and these aren’t the last good times you’ll have!
    He seems to be one of those guys that feels that once he has you, his work is done. There is nothing you can do with a guy that truly feels that way except be happy he let you know.
    I wish you the best in the future and remember- not all guys are like him.

  12. 12

    The weakness for attention, romance and flattery is women,s Achilles heel. I get it, I was a sitting target after an abusive relationship. but Facebook, sex, messages, flowers and cards are not in themselves an indicator that you have a sustainable connection. Did you ever have that? If you genuinely say yes it may be worth one last shot. Go out for a walk, don,t cry, and tell him your concerns. Along the lines of ” I feel rejected, that you don,t love me anymore” rather than “you,re a useless bastard.”
    if he doesn’t seem to care how you feel it,s time to bail.
    i agree with David, the only way to go from the dizzying heights is crash and burn. Did you have a real relationship or were you floating on dreams?

  13. 13

    The statement that jumps out at me is “When I ask him what happened to the texts, Facebook messages, and cards, he says he no longer needs to do that and that we will be married when he is ready.”

    Perhaps, you’re fiancee doesn’t realize that a relationship is continuous work?   It’s like becoming the boss of the company, then deciding you can sit back and do nothing.   I agree with Evan, but if you do want to give this a second go, just say what is true: You want a relationship where your partner shows to you that you are important.
    Do you know why he was divorced?   Did he pull this same bait-and-switch on his ex-wife?   I also second the poster that said he may not be “over” his ex-wife if he is still spending all this time being bitter and resentful towards her.
    The other thought that popped into my head is this:   I read an article that said foster children who know they are about up for potential adoption will test the waters, misbehave, and essentially see what they can get away with and if you really have “unconditional love” for them, and if you don’t, essentially thwart the adoption by their own hands.   
    I also had an ex-bf in my early 20s who played supportive when I went to interview for a job in another city, then became a nightmare when I actually received an offer.   I just think people with this kind of baggage would prefer would prefer to be the sabateur as opposed to the rejected one, even though it means ruining any possible future positive relationships for themselves.
    I’d heed Evan’s advice and give back the ring.   Draw boundaries, and don’t accept unreasonable complaints from him.   Don’t whine, either.   Don’t whine that you aren’t getting flowers.   Just say that the continuation of those behaviors are what you deserve for life, and if that doesn’t work for him then you have to know the relationship doesn’t work for you.

  14. 14
    Karmic Equation


    Wow. Never would have thought about the menopause thing. Good thought.


    If you are in the menopause stage, any relationship will be a trial for the man, I’m afraid. He would have to be truly devoted to you to bear that. I have a friend whose wife went through/is going through this and it was/is a trial for him and he’s been married to her for almost 20 years. I imagine if he weren’t who knows how that relationship would have fared.

    On another note, assuming that you are NOT going through menopause, and your fiance is acting the way he is for whatever reasons, you should exercise your option to walk away as Evan suggests AND if he comes after you then, if you wish to restart your relationship with him, you can try to reset the relationship by stating up front what you want from the relationship. If he doesn’t come after you, then you have your answer about how he really feels about the relationship and be free to look elsewhere.

    Walking away is hard. I actually did it twice in 4 weeks with my guy. And each time, he did come back after me. Now we’re back together and the relationship is the one I want. It didn’t actually get better until I told him I loved HIM but HATED our relationship.

    But it starts with the resolve to walk away and STAY AWAY unless he comes after you. If he does, you are in the drivers seat…and hopefully, you spent the time away from him to figure out what didn’t work and what you want, such that you can clearly state it to him CONCISELY (within one or two sentences). Any longer and you’ll lose him, unless he’s the talkative type, which doesn’t sound like him from your description.

  15. 15

    @Evan   Hahaa! Very astute, and of course, Right again!

  16. 16

    Wow, yeah…Lee needs to give the ring back and say “OK, take 2 years.   While you’re paying your debts, take the time to straighten out your emotional accountability as well.”     He needs to get his crap together on his own.   I can’t tell whether he would argue with her, but I would question him putting up much of a fight if she were to give back the ring.   He may be one of those guys who just feels more comfortable in a relationship, whether that relationship has any real substance to it or not or if his partner is happy with him.   All I can say is return the favor: in addition to removing the ring, delete every phone number, every text history, and every email and email address, with the added benefit of ridding oneself of temptation.
    Easier said than done, for sure.   Personally, I found it is easier to let go of an emotional investment when I allowed myself to be angry at how I was being treated.   Not out-of-control, vindictively angry, but angry enough so that I could actually say, “ENOUGH!”, cut contact, and not give one shit if I temporarily upset his world.   That was a lot of social conditioning I broke free from.   Anger is often a double-edged sword, but in this case, I think anger cauterized some of the hurt I was feeling– enough to prevent me from foolishly giving things another chance.  

  17. 17

    Great advice here, Evan. Having been with a man who did this after we married (I don’t have to have sex with you or woo you anymore because we are finally married), I can definitely say to get out now. He may have proposed due to emotional pressure   – his own or Lee’s – and now he is showing you that he is very passive-aggressive and hasn’t done ANY work on himself.  
    You do not want to marry someone who is not ready to be married. He has a lot of work to do on himself – I would be curious as to how long he has been divorced – I have seen this pattern a lot in men who are newly single.
    Give the ring back, and best wishes with dating. I have a wonderful 55 year old husband (who is very romantic) and we have been together two years, married 3 months ago.   We are realists and very pragmatic BUT we also believe in making our marriage terrific and he likes romance as much as I do. There are other men out there who do also.

  18. 18
    Valley Forge Lady

    The Answer is very simple…..he checked out….you have to check out!     Otherwise you are going to be very STUCK!!!!!
    Get over the pity party and enjoy your freedom!!!!   I will bet this is what ended his first marriage.     His wife medicated herself with spending money to deal with the emotional starvation.
    RUN!!!!!!       Baby RUN!!!!!!       I am 63 and glad to be free!   PS.   I have an active dating life.     I am heading off to the gym to keep them looking!     You are not dead…..don’t act like you are and this is the last man on earth.     HE IS NOT!!!!

  19. 19

    I think Evan’s advice is spot on! People who are saying that “we’ve only heard half the story” etc are missing the point, I think. One could explain away why he wants less sex (age/hormones etc) or why the romance has lessened (or died, so it sounds) but it’s the way he’s dealing with her legitimate questions and needs that’s the massive red flag.
    Pushing her off him when she wants sex (or even a hug), rather than kindly talking to her and being willing to meet her needs half way. Telling her that he doesn’t need to bother being romantic anymore because they’re going to be married (again, not being willing to think “hang on a second, if this is so important to the woman I love, then let’s try and compromise”) and actually declaring that they will only get married “when he is ready”. It all reeks of me, me, me on his part, in terms of the sense that her unhappiness doesn’t move him either way, he doesn’t seem to be inspired to compromise to meet her needs as well as his own. You would expect that to me a massive part of any healthy reciprocal relationship…
    To me, having (maybe legitimate) reasons for not wanting to do something, doesn’t justify being unkind, or not taking the other person’s feelings into account when you’re dealing with them. He sounds just rude and inconsiderate when it comes to not wanting to do what he doesn’t want to.

  20. 20

    I spent three years in a relationship that started off with the constant texts, calls, flowers and sweet gestures.     That lasted about a  year.   During Years 2 and 3 all the romance suddenly dwindled and then dropped off completely.   When I questioned it, my Ex kept insisting that he was still just as invested in me and our future, even though his actions suggested otherwise.  
    So I spent those two years looking for and waiting for the return of the (pretend) guy that had swept me off my feet in Year 1.     But he had just been a short-term  illusion, and — since I was also fresh from a very barren long-term marriage — I was particularly ripe for thinking that the illusion was real.
    Please:   Don’t waste your time pining for and trying to return to the fake romance you used to have.   This guy is showing you who he really is, and he’s shown you all you need to know.   Run!!

    1. 20.1
      Freedom Finally

      “So instead of being focused on the three things I listed above, instead of longing for the first few months of your dreamy relationship, instead of fantasizing what could have been if he were only a different person, how about you pay attention to these facts:

      1) He never texts, calls, sends flowers or cards.
      2) He pushes you off him when you want sex.
      3) He is delaying marriage by (at least) 2 years.
      4) He believes he no longer has to be thoughtful to you now that you’re his fiancé.
      5) He doesn’t seem to be remotely concerned about your needs.

      This is all the evidence I need to say that, no matter how good you may have once had it, your fiancé would make a terrible husband.”

      I wish I had read this years ago. This was my relationship. My needs were not his problem.

      I am recently separated after 16 yrs, and it has been a very enlightening and liberating 6 months.

      I have realized, though I loved my ex, and still love him, that our relationship should have ended at year two. Or in year ten when we split up. Or anywhere after year two, yeah. I never should have excepted the meaningless engagement ring after that. Or the heartfelt letter of promises never to be realized, or short term token efforts if you would. Or maybe when my beloved Gram warned me, he is a workaholic, you will never be a priority? I loved him more than I loved myself. (Whole new topic!)

      I spent 14 yrs hoping that guy I fell in love with would resurface, seeing glimmers here and there and hurting when reality was, that was never who he was.

      Even if he would temporarily resume this loving persona if it looked like I might be on the verge of discovery.

      A hard decision, courage, therapy and time, and I can see clearly that I deserve much more. I deserve love, affection, intimacy and to be valued. I deserve to laugh, have fun, and reach my personal potential!

      Love and hope can lead us on a merry chase, but without either life would be unbearable. I saw myself for a fool for a time, but I have come to realize, both are necessary for happiness. I shall risk being foolish on occasion quite happily, rather then trod on in bleakness.

      I am looking forward to exploring my own passions now. Meeting new people, braving my fears, taking it day by day, and embracing that which made me for who I was, which I eventually forfeited and have begun to reclaim. I love companionship, flirtation, and chemistry, but I am in no rush to entangle myself in the dating jungle.

      Dinner dates with new friends, sharing interests with people who enjoy the same hobbies, and trying new things are wonderful ways to compliment my solitary life at the moment.

      And I try not to regret “all those wasted years.” We did raise two beautiful children, and some good times along the way. I learned much, which I would not UNlearn. My heart is slowly mending, and I am growing.

      It is a time riddled by tears, uncertainty, heartache, discovery, joys, regrets, hopes and so much more. It is a very ALIVE time.

      Ladies, let me echo the many comments here. If your gut, heart, intuition speaks, LISTEN. Be brave, move on, find what is right for you. A relationship with one in misery is not a relationship at all, but prison for both.

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