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. 21

    GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN! I am so sorry that you are hurting. It is good that you are seeing this side of him NOW. You will find a nice man who will treat you better than that.
    You will find someone better and you will thank yourself that you got out now before getting into another disastrous marriage!

  2. 22

    Awesome comment, Valley Forge Lady!   Love it.   

  3. 23
    Valley Forge Lady

    You were love bombed!   I will bet this guy was completely clueless as to why his marriage ended.     If the wife left him for another man, he was really steamed.   I have seen this happen and it has happened to me.     The new single guy does all the cliche romantic stuff, gets a nice lady hooked, once she is hooked, she goes on the shelf.
    In case you think I am being hard on men.   Women do this too!     They hook a guy with sex and all the female goodies like cooking and lingerie.   The guy gets hooked, gets married, hands out the credit cards, two kids, and the woman just stops being the woman he courted.   She becomes a shopping machine, ignores the husband for the kids and her mom and siblings.     oh yes, she gets fat!     The guy is stuck!
    The online dating sites are full of these people ususally without photos who are  window shopping for what ts would be like if they were single.
    You dodged a bullet Baby!!!!!     Go out with the girl friends and celebrate.     You do have girl friends?   If you don’t….go get some.   They are around a lot longer than most men you will meet!     I love men…and I am looking for a great one.     But don’t underestimate your need for same sex pals!

  4. 24

    Wow, blaming this debacle on the woman’s possible menopause? Please. This guy sounds like a real piece of work. And this business about returning the ring? Depends on what state you live in. In California for example, an engagement ring is considered a gift and need not be returned regardless of whether a wedding ever happens. Keep the ring, you’ ve earned it! Or sell it and use the money to help you find someone wonderful!

  5. 25

    This letter makes me think of all Evan has written about “passionate love” only lasting a few years.   Quite possibly, this man truly felt passionate for the first two years but now that passion is quite normally & naturally diminishing, he’s stopped feeling the drive to behave romantically.     But, no matter the reason for his change; you two are obviously on different wave lengths and it’s time for you to go.
    And, @David2, I agree about the disappointment of most who get swept off their feet… but I find it’s more often men who aren’t willing to settle for anything but The Great Passion and who are then shocked and let down by where it eventually leads.

  6. 26

    I can’t imagine wanting to be with someone who runs hot/cold like that.   Especially the cold part.   If that turned into a marriage that would be one lonely place to be.

  7. 28
    Barbi Girl

    Lee, run baby, run! This man sounds like he has some serious issues! Doting on you just to hook you, then showing his true colors once he reels you only screams disaster! It sounds like he played the game well and kept up a certain facade until he felt that he did not have to play the game or essentially be polite and respectful and loving any more. That is not love! That is passive-aggressive manipulation! He sounds very emotionally controlling, too, which in my opinion, borders on the edge of being abusive. He is preying on your vulnerabilities, in knowing that you had a bad marriage before and care about him so much now. That displays a total lack of integrity. No woman deserves that. If you are not getting your needs met now, they will never be met. Also, I question why he would even propose if he had no intention on marrying you for at least the next two years. Why not wait to propose then? I think it is because he does not want to play the “love game” any more, and knows that you are hooked and probably (in his mind) love him too much to leave him, so he locks you in a way to guarantee that he will not be alone. I hate to say it, but he is an idiot to think that a marriage will work like this. No one wants to be 2 divorces, and certainly not you. He is telling you “how it is now,” and if that is not what you truly desire, then walk away for good. Life is too short to waste your precious youth, time, love, effort, and energy on someone who is unwilling to invest that back….in their future wife no less! Sorry to sound so harsh, and sorry that he did not turn out to be the man who you thought he was. Love yourself enough to never settle for less than what you want or need. Best of luck, Lee, and know that good, kind, loving men are out there! XO

  8. 29

    @Henriette, I totally see what you’re saying, but surely it isn’t the point whether the passion has slowed down due to time. Firstly, there must be something between 0 and 100 on the passion scale (especially after only 2 years!), and second, it’s the way he turns her down that is suspect and unacceptable: pushing her off him, telling her “he doesn’t need to bother with romance any more” and the whole “getting married will happen when I’m ready” etc. where’s the kindness in how he delivers this information, where’s the desire to compromise… He is totally entitled to his needs and opinions, but I don’t think he’s entitled to deliver those in an inconsiderate, unkind and uncompromising way.

  9. 30

    As for the menopause thing…   have to agree with Amy. What a ridiculous comment! Again, explanations for why he or she may be less or more sexual is not the point… They could be having these issues over the fact that after 2 years he’s stopped helping with the housework or other things… It’s his attitude and more than the issues themselves that show him for what he is.

  10. 31

    Tenderness toward someone you love shouldn’t be work. It sounds like he’s lost that loving feeling and is making her do the dirty work. Painful read.

  11. 32

    Agree with EMK 100%, Lee.   I’ve been in a marriage like that and can attest that if a man isn’t willing to give, that things don’t get better over time.
    Despite this, you will likely be tempted to try to fix him or “make it work.”   When I am tempted to do something like that, I remind myself of this wry Ashley Brilliant epigram:   “I will always love the false image I had of you. ” It makes me smile and keeps me in check!
    Good luck on the relationship detox.

  12. 33
    Karmic Equation

    @Jem & Amy

    Wow. This close-minded, one-sided view, Woman Good / Man Bad, is non-productive. As women, we have to be open to the POSSIBILITY that menopause COULD BE a problem. No one is BLAMING the situation on menopause but simply saying it could be contributing to the problem.

    Additionally, LABELING the guy as BAD, LAZY, WRONG, WHATEVER doesn’t solve the problem or help Lee. It doesn’t really matter WHY the guy is doing what he’s doing, it only matters that he’s doing it and she’s not happy and needs to do whatever she needs to do change her situation.

    The man-bashing here is crazy. If all of you are so quick to label and bash men without being open to the possibility that the OP could have contributed to the problem in some way (small or big, consciously or subconsciously, even innocently) shows your latent hostility towards men…and probably contributes to your own travails in finding a good man. No man is perfect nor is any woman. If there is a problem in the relationship, you can be sure BOTH parties contributed to it, even if one party has simply tolerated intolerable behavior. Tolerating intolerable behavior is a problem in itself and contributes to the problem. Being needy and emotional is a problem. Crying all the time is a problem. These are FEMININE ways for controlling a man, consciously or not.

    I think OP and you may benefit from reading this book, The Passion Trap by Dean Delis.

    All this said, the only thing that matters is what Lee is willing to do. The man is irrelevant at this point. The RELATIONSHIP is not a happy one, so end the relationship. She can still love the guy from afar, but the relationship as it stands is not worth having for HER, so she should end it. Period. The guy could be an ANGEL…and if she were unhappy with the relationship with said angel, I’d give her the same advice. Then at some point, if they both so desire, they can negotiate the terms of a new relationship, if they want to give each other another chance. You can’t end feelings, but you CAN and SHOULD end relationships if they’re not working. Both parties have this option.

    Unfortunately, for some men, TELLING him it’s not working doesn’t achieve any results. Some men only understand actions. And walking away from a relationship tells him more LOUDLY and CLEARLY than any words ever could that the relationship isn’t working. Then the ball is in his court and you move on with your life…and if he comes back, you have the choice to take him back or keep going on without him. The willingness and power to walk away from a relationship is a woman’s true power in a relationship. Trying, wishing, or asking men to change is a submissive position to take and gives him power he doesn’t deserve.

  13. 34

    This guy’s behavior is about control, not love.   My ex-husband was the exact same way.   As soon as we were married, I could have no needs and basically did not exist.   It was all about him, all day, everyday.   When I would try to broach the subject of never having sex or maybe just eating dinner together at the table vs. in front of the TV, he’d say, “Oh, poor you.   It must be so hard to be you!”   So I stopped caring after 6 years of trying, and I left.   Get out now while you have the chance, and thank God you didn’t marry him.

  14. 35

    For the record, the average age for menopause is 51, and it’s perimenopause that can start 10+ years earlier. A woman’s sex drive is likelier to be higher during perimenopause, and lower after menopause. Some women experience severe symptoms, some don’t experience any, and for most symptoms are manageable or easily treated with natural therapies. Lee’s boyfriend’s male menopause is a more likely culprit.
    I’ve observed many men going through a divorce or bad marriage who are all too ready to jump into the next relationship without doing any real work on themselves or their issues. I’m sure women can be guilty of the same, but they are more likely to go into therapy or talk to their friends than men seem to be. And with the divorce rate for 2nd and 3rd marriages even higher than for first marriages, it’s something to consider carefully.

  15. 36

    Would y’all be telling the guy to get out if her libido suddenly dropped through the floor, or would y’all be telling him he has to stick around and work things out?

  16. 37
    Karmic Equation


    How just like a guy to focus on the “sex” part of the problem…LOL

    That is not the only problem, as you well know. It’s the accumulation of all the other stuff plus the lack of sex that is making her unhappy.

    I believe that if a person is “frustrated” in a relationship, then working things out is an option. I also believe that we’re each in charge of our own happiness (“Happiness is a choice”). So if this relationship isn’t making her happy, she needs to choose the actions that will lead her to happiness. Granted the breakup will be painful, but if she keeps her eyes on the prize (future happiness), she will better weather the pain with something to look forward to.

  17. 38

    Evans right again
    Thank god you didn’t already marry him!!!!!!!!!!! Focus on gratitude for this!
    Time for you to start dating and having fun
    Good luck

  18. 39

    Wow. What does this dude do for a living, sell timeshares? Whoever mentioned bait and switch on here was 100% right. Time to call it a day.
    Joe, if she physically pushed him off her, and if she was telling him that she doesn’t need to show him any attention anymore because they’re getting married anyway, you’re right I’d tell the guy to leave a woman who acted like that, no matter whether her libido is through the floor or through the ceiling.

  19. 40

    @Jem – Hey, I never said that this was acceptable behaviour.   In her letter, Lee asked what happened with this guy and I wanted to provide another possible explanation, to balance all those above/below who state that he purposely got her hooked with romance and then let his true colours show.   I’m suggesting that maybe he’s one of those guys (I’ve known plenty of women like this, too) who was genuinely enthusiastic when in the throes of passionate love but when that wore off, he didn’t want to put any effort because it no longer felt “natural.”     In other words, maybe it wasn’t trickery as much as a complete mis-understanding of how love changes with time and requires effort at every stage.   Not every person who does an about-face was dissembling when they were on his/her best behaviour!
    In any case, what’s most important ~ and what we all agree upon ~ is that Lee see this red flag and end the relationship.   It doesn’t actually matter WHY the dude is behaving so badly; what counts is that Lee not accept it.

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