Why Did The Romance End After He Proposed?

Why Did The Romance End After He Proposed?

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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 41
    Karl R

    Ruby, (#36)
    You are correct that the average age for menopause is 51, but the typical range for menopause is 40 to 61. Perimenopause takes place in the years before and after the final period. (I just went and confirmed this. Feel free to check medical sources to see if you find any that significantly disagree.)
    Ruby said: (#36)
    “Some women experience severe symptoms, some don’t experience any,”
    My wife started having sex 2 to 3 times per day. (Fortunately this occurred before we met. I can’t keep up that kind of pace.)
    That may (or may not) be occurring in Lee’s relationship, but I can see how it might suddenly create a lot of stress about sex.
    Ruby said: (#36)
    “Lee’s boyfriend’s male menopause is a more likely culprit.”
    I’m not sure why that would make Lee cry all the time like a lovesick teenager, but it is an alternate explanation for why her boyfriend stopped wanting sex as much as she did.
    Amy said: (#25)
    “Wow, blaming this debacle on the woman’s possible menopause?”
    Who is trying to place blame? Lee wants a solution, not a scapegoat.
    My suggestion is to consider menopause as a contributing factor. (Ruby’s suggestion of male menopause is also a possible contributing factor.) If either one of those suggestions applies, then Lee has some possible solutions she can try instead of dumping her fiance.
    If neither suggestion applies, then she should break up with her faince. Even if one (or both) applies, breaking up still might end up being the best choice.
    Goldie said: (#40)
    “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,”
    Lee said: (original post)
    “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.”
    I think we’re reading Lee’s statement differently. (See the bolded words in the two quotes.)
    Lee said “and” instead of “because”. To me, it sounds like she may have tacked a separate thought onto the sentence. The part about getting married seems to refer to her previous sentence (about getting married in 2 years).
    Lee very clearly stated that the calls, texts, cards and Facebook messages stopped. What she doesn’t mention is whether their living arrangements changed. I live with my wife. We talk (face-to-face) frequently. Our texts, calls and emails tend to be short and to-the-point. Our flirting happens when we’re close enough that I can touch her.
    Goldie said: (#40)
    “if she physically pushed him off her, […] 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.”
    The only way a woman could push me off her is if I’ve already climbed on her. If I climb onto a woman who has already expressed that she doesn’t want sex right now … that’s rather coercive behavior.
    The more that I look at Lee’s letter, the more I think we’re missing the important details.

  12. 42

    Everything Barb said in 29. and RUNNNNNNNNN.

    Withholding sex is a classic trick in the passive aggressive bag. It won’t get better, he doesn’t care about her feelings and is indeed quite clueless. not trying, not caring, etc all clarion calls of a passive aggressive. they will suck the life out of you until there is nothing left.
    and he’s put all the burdens on her so he doesn’t have to deal with it.

    RUN. And go work on yourself. Find you passion, your joy what makes you tick. What you need.

  13. 43

    Karl R #42
    “You are correct that the average age for menopause is 51, but the typical range for menopause is 40 to 61. Perimenopause takes place in the years before and after the final period. (I just went and confirmed this. Feel free to check medical sources to see if you find any that significantly disagree.)”
    I’m not sure where you are getting that perimenopause takes place both before and after menopause. The period after menopause is generally called…postmenopause.
    I double-checked several online sources including WebMD and the Mayo Clinic. The WebMD medical dictionary describes perimenopause as, “The 3- to 5-year period prior to menopause during which estrogen levels begin to drop.”
    The Mayo Clinic offers a longer definition:

    According to the OP, the change in her boyfriend’s behavior started as soon as she accepted his marriage proposal, so it doesn’t sound to me like the change is due to her own hormonally-induced mood swings or depression. It also doesn’t sound like the two of them live together, so the methods of communication he used to use would still matter, and their loss would be obvious. I do wonder what their relationship is like now, outside of the bedroom.

  14. 44

    Good luck to Lee.  Evan’s advice was dead on.  Unfortunately, I don’t see too many people who are head over heals with someone having the courage to leave a relationship that is obviously detrimental to them…….They tend to hold on to something that has a very low probability of ever changing for the better.  I see it all of the time especially when the couple has been together for a long time.   

  15. 45

    Karl R, menopause doesn’t take 20 years.  You should be reading that statement that women will start menopause usually between those age ranges.  
    Some women will experience menopause in their 40’s.  Those women will experience perimenopause in their late 30’s or early to mid 40’s, depending on when menopause starts for them.
    Other women will not go through menopause until they hit their 50’s, and those women will experience perimenopause in the years leading up to that.  
    So yes, estrogen levels drop as we age, but not everyone is starting from the same place (some women are more fertile and have higher levels of estrogen), and some women will not go through menopause until later and remain fertile longer (my grandmother was having kids until nearly 50).  I’ve encountered women who started perimenopause in their late 30’s.  I think that is not so common.  And on the other end, it’s not that common to find women who don’t start until they hit 60 but I’ve known of that too (again, b/c women in my family seem to go through it pretty late).

  16. 46

    The thing I’m taking away from this is once again the pick-up artists are not wrong– be stingy with the texts and cards and gifts or you’ll spoil her and she’ll come to expect it and any drop off will find her wondering what went wrong. The patterns you start at the beginning are not easily broken or changed.

  17. 47

    Nicole, you’re not getting it.  Karl said the range is 40-61, with an average of 51.  He’s not talking about the entire period, just onset.

  18. 48

    I always find it so funny when men try to talk about menopause. And periods. You can tell that they don’t know what they’re talking about but are trying very, very hard to understand. (I put a couple of male doctors in that group, too.) Too funny!

  19. 49

    I don’t really think menopause is the issue here. 
    (Though when I read this post first it struck me that this guy may have low testosterone. Often these guys get grumpy have no energy and a loss of libido. Very common in guys over 50 especially if he doesn’t work out.)
    I think this woman is crying because she was in a horrible marriage for decades and now she’s with an insensitive clod and was about to enter another horrible marriage and waste more of her life on an unworthy guy. 

  20. 50

    Karl R #42
    “Lee’s boyfriend’s male menopause is a more likely culprit.”
    I’m not sure why that would make Lee cry all the time like a lovesick teenager, but it is an alternate explanation for why her boyfriend stopped wanting sex as much as she did.”
    I think Lee is crying because she’s heartbroken, discovering that that her soulmate is a bastard. She just hasn’t gotten to the anger stage yet.
    She also mentions that dating him was like “high school” and she feels like a “lovesick teen.” Note that this is a woman who was in a relationship/marriage for probably at least a quarter of a century. It’s quite possible that she actually was a teen, or barely out of her teens, the last time she dated.

  21. 51

    The whole menopause discussion kind of reminds me of situations when a woman’s complaints are being ignored and discarded because, oh, she’s just emotional because she must be on her period. I cannot think of any way to sugarcoat what’s I’m about to say… that’s pretty sexist. Also, as Ruby already pointed out, according to Lee things have changed literally overnight, immediately after he proposed and she said yes. I’m not an expert on menopause, but pretty sure it doesn’t start overnight like that – one day everything is great and the very next day, the woman is in tears for no reason, because as of this morning, she’s going through menopause. Pretty sure that’s not how it works! Besides, isn’t it an amazing coincidence that Lee would receive a marriage proposal AND start menopause on the exact same day? I mean, wow, what are the odds, right?
    The woman is crying because she feels she’s been played and lied to. Heck, I’d be crying too.

  22. 52

    Goldie is right- this woman has been played.
    Re menopause, often the perimenopause period prior is MUCH worse. The latter hits about age 40-45, depending. When you go into menopause is genetic but the average age is 51.
    I had perimenopause sorta bad- couldn’t sleep, gained a little weight, but nothing awful, heavy periods one month, light the next.
    Menopause was relatively easy, but the night sweats kept me up a little so I went on bio-identical hormones- all of them, incl. testosterone which may explain my continued strong interest in sex despite my age (nearly 60).
    But some women are hit particularly hard by menopause. In general, the thinner you are the harder it hits ’cause estrogen is stored in fat and big, beautiful mommas just have more so can navigate this period easier by and large.
    My bf, btw, is bottoming out on testy right now by choice and other complications and he’s gotten moody, irritable at times. Read the other day male menopause hits hardest at 60 (the researcher called them “grumpy old men”) so he’s right on target. He will jump back on testy soon though.
    For more info read Suzanne Somers, Dr. John Lee, Dr. Christiane Northrup, others. HRT is booming right now, but you have to do it right and not use synthetics. I am particularly interested right now adiponectin (yet another hormone!), and experimenting with increasing my levels so I can lose weight in my gut.

  23. 53

    Sounds like you could use a diaper change, Karmic equation.  Menopause is part of life, just like not being able to get “it” up!  If you truly love somone you work through it.   

  24. 54

    Men are competitive. He probably feels like he doesnt have to do all that anymore. 
    I would say step back. Go on a girls trip. When you come back you will have some flowers and dinner. 
    [email protected] a boy toy! LOL! 

  25. 55

    @Joe, yes, thank you, as someone who actually is a women, I totally do not understand menstruation and need a man to tell me how it works and when it ends.  

  26. 56
    Valley Forge Lady

    Alert!  Will the lady who started this discussion please check in and tell us that she realizes that the guy is a jerk, she has moved on and that her hormones have nothing to do with this situation.
    Also, if the guy sees the light in a couple of months, please keep running away.  He is just lonely and horny. HE HAS NOT CHANGED.
    This blog has attracted a lot of attention because we have been here.  However, time does not change these fools.  A guy who dumped me 5 years ago popped up over Christmas.   PS he is married.  I told him to get lost and warned him the police would be called if he ever showed up.   RUN BABY RUN…….Let us know you get this!!!!    The suspense is killing me!

  27. 57

    if someone has had a horrible marriage followed by a bad relationship, he or she must look to why they chose these relationships and why they stayed in them.   It’s not to make Lee  feel bad but  to avoid calamity no. three. It’s not as simple as just blaming the exes.  We have to learn to make better choices. 
    I am  sceptical that a man who genuinely loves you will suddenly switch after two years. Was there no sign of it before? 
    facebook, msgs, cards and flowers are not commitment and love. Feeling like a teenager and being swept off your feet are counterindicative of a solid relationship.  In relationships we should expect some doubt, fear, and conflict. commiment is a big deal and requires sacrifice and compromise. We acknowledge it, we communicate, we push through it. If your relationship is all hearts and flowers and cards and facebook and sex, it’s just not real, and when reality hits  it will fold.
    We can call him a bastard and chalk this up to random bad luck but I don’t think that will help Lee moving forward.  It will simply free her up to repeat the experience.  New man, same relationship.
    I agree that a full and happy recovery is possible but it’s not when you meet the right person. It’s before that . And then you meet the right person.  Relationships are the worst place to work out childhood issues, previous bad relationships, a horrible marriage, low self-esteem. You just get run over again.

  28. 58

    @ Nicole: once again, missing the point.
    Feel free to chastise me for saying that you know nothing about menstruation, but that is not what I said.  What I was pointing out was that you were busting on Karl for saying menopause lasts 20 years when that is not what he was saying at all.

  29. 59

    m…listen Lee, when u change UR attitude u change the game. Before u consider leaving give it one last shot but u HAVE to change ur attitude. Stop the crying and complaining, he is acting like a man who feels like he “got” you and who feels annoyed with you, he doesn’t feel inspired to act romantically anymore because he knows that whatver he says or does you aight going nowhere, which sounds like is pretty much true. Start by not wearing the ring anymore when he ask why you say: “i wanna see how this goes before i start wearing it again…”shock wave ! now U are the one deciding when and if U want to marry him, only if he ask u what r u talking about? say: i don’t feel happy because my needs are not being met, and don’t want to get married in this conditions and i agree u do have problems that needs to be fix first. oh yeah ! and start acting like you mean it, stop going to his house, stop calling him, stop meeting him half way, stop doing things for him, don’t answer his calls in lightening speed, go out with friends, dress like a single and fun woman would do, when he’s not in front of u forget about him. But when he calls, comes to see u be open and calm. Trust me what i’m telling has worked for the best in my life ,he WILL do another 180 degree turn again. good luck

  30. 60
    Valley Forge Lady

    Comment to Pe.   I would love to believe your story of love redemptiom by simply making the man miss what he almost loses.  Sounds like something out of bodice ripping romance novel or TV soap opera.   This kind of behavior keeps people in on again / off again relationships.  People keep jumping off the romance merry go round and revert to their old self centered ways once the deal is closed.
    I would buy the movie rights to a true story of this ever occuring.  I am not holding my breath.
    I believe in  true love but there are a lot  of poseurs out here workig their games skillfully and it is hard to call them on it because you have to admit you have been played.  I have been taken on this ride and it ain’t happening again.
    BTW. the scam happens to both men and women so no man bashing here!

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