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.

Join our conversation (80 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 61

    Evan has always said that if you want to find out if a man will commit, walk away and see if he follows you.  
    Karmic Equation said @15:   “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.”
    That got me to thinking…if you walk away and he follows you…how long should it take for him to do so?   A day? A week? A month? Six months? A year?
    If you are having enough trouble in your relationship that you walk away, and he follows you, should you immediately take him back?   How does that help?   When I read Karmic Equations comment, I thought you walked away twice in a month, and now you are happy?   The relationship is the one you want?   I couldn’t help but wonder, how does that happen so quickly?   Or is he just faking a future to keep you in his life? How could he have made any serious change or shift in his mindset so quickly?   Should you get back with him to give him time to prove it is a true change?   But how is that different that what you’ve been doing all along?   Isn’t it just the same old b.s. you’ve been putting up with all along with a different spin?   Shouldn’t he have to prove the change before you give him another chance?
    P.S.   This post is not directed at Karmic Equation specifically, I was just using the situation Karmic Equation described above as an example.

  2. 62
    Karmic Equation

    @Cat5 62

    Well, I have a unique situation in that the bf wanted marriage and I don’t. So my problem wasn’t getting a commitment. My problem was trusting that he would stay committed. Remember my bf is a refomred player, who actually has more red flags than “green lights” to recommend him.

    The short answer is that I think the length of time between walking away and walking back depends on the combination of nature of what needs to change and the expected shelf-life of the relationship. When I first got involved with him (March 2012) I was only interested in a transitional relationship with a guy that I knew wouldn’t require me to commit emotionally (e.g., “player”), so my standards were pretty non-existent, as I wasn’t looking for a bf (just ended an LTR painfully) and needed a distraction.

    I gave this some thought, and I think, for me personally, I have different standards for different relationships.
    1) ONS – (attractive, hygienic, not a serial killer/rapist)
    2) FWB – Something in common in addition to sex, plus all the standards of (1)
    3) BF – Good character, exclusivity, consistency, good communications, plus all the standards of (1) & (2)
    4) Husband – Good decision-maker, shared values, shared life-goals, plus all the standards of (1), (2), and (3)

    I never saw him as marriage material…and actually was skeptical that he’d be a good bf. He surprised me in that he was actually doing some BF things well and consistently. Calling everyday (twice actually); telling me he loves me; I give him credit for trying to be a good BF, but I always felt he was more of an FWB+ (“+” being exclusive), but our relationship was failing on the communications side. Being a narcissist, he’s never wrong, which is totally frustrating when you want to talk about something that is bothering you. And he wasn’t consistent on some other behaviors, which made me distrust him so he was failing the trust part, too, and I wanted him to change behaviors not mindset. So I actually HAD to walk away for him to understand that he’s not the center of my world.

    Behaviors you can’t see change unless you’re participating up close, so I went back and he did change the behaviors (though started to revert back by week 4, but not to the same degree that made me walk, so I put him on my mental short leash for the last two weeks).

    I’m speaking in the past tense because I’ve walked away a 3rd time (in six weeks) — and this time, the changes I want are mindset-related (how to be a “good guy” instead of a shady “bad guy”) in addition to the behaviors. I don’t have any confidence that he will change them. He broke a promise, and the breaking of this particular promise (not fidelity, in case you were wondering, although it’s possible he could have) — proved to me beyond a doubt how untrustworthy he was. So going back to him would require demonstration that he actually has changed…but untrustworthiness, alas, is a character flaw expressed by behaviors…so getting back is slim to none.

    As well, now that I’ve healed from my last LTR and am ready to “fall in love” again (I loved my player bf, still do, but I’m definitely NOT “in love” with him and never could be with him the way he is) — I will raise my standards back to “husband-worthy” (even though I’m not planning to marry again). I’m just ready for a “quality man” now, which my reformed-player bf was not.

  3. 63

    my take on walking away that it can trigger a chase response in some men, but it can be more about wanting to win than wanting you. For me personally all it did was extend the relationship beyond it,s natural expiry date.
    real change take such self awareness, commitment, willingness, time and motivation that i just wouldn’t count on it. He has to want to do it for himself first and foremost, not because someone else wants him to. And sod,s law if he DOES change   he wants someone new to match the new improved him!  Not that there is anything wrong with the previous person, i think he will not want to be reminded of what he used to be like. That,s my take on it as someone who did change. I reckon it took over three years to change my bad relationship habits though i admit i was a bad case. I wouldn’t want any of my exes back. Even the good ones. I couldn’t stand the embarrassment!

  4. 64

    Can you go to a therapist together?    I don’t like how he pushes you away.   Maybe he has intimacy issues?   

  5. 65

    Same thing happened to me but backwards. I felt that after a few months of romance it was pertinent to propose and have her as my girlfriend. There were some other factors involved like it was a long distance relationship but still things changed drastically after the proposal.
    She evaded her sister when she asked about me, she texted me less and less through face book, she stopped watching my fb profile even though I started posting more photos of me just for her, she skyped less and less also and also started making stupid excuses that she was “studying” and “sleeping” all the time. It didn’t happen before we decided to go serious even though she was studying at that time too.
    Like Evan says, she was nothing but a “selfish douche”.
    I continued texting her after she was my “girlfriend”. I kept calling and also making thoughtful notes but I never got to see any memorable gestures from her part. To some extent I was also fooling myself seeing that she didn’t respond like before and still making efforts for her.  
    9 months wasted in a dead-end relationship. But how was I to know? Before all this, she was a completely different person.

  6. 66

    Just want to say Evan’s right on the money! Time to cut bait. Suffering for the rest of your life is a much rougher option than letting go now and saving yourself. Love the blog!

  7. 67

    OUCH!   Douche .. haha ..love it.   The truth is …you can rip the bandaid off slowly or quickly …. but in the end, you will need to rip it off if you want to be happy.   The only thing worse than wasting two years with this guy,   is wasting two years and one more day!   Be brave.   

  8. 68

    Sounds like she may have gotten swept off her feet by a narcissist.   I bet dollars to donuts she’d get a similar story from his ex-wife.

  9. 69


    I’m heart-broken for you.   I had nearly the same thing happen to me. Although, he wasn’t delaying the marriage. I was an emotional wreck.

    I decided I was important to me. I had to take care of me first. I called him late one night, and said I couldn’t do us any longer. I’m out. Few days later he told a mutual friend he was shocked I had broken up with him.

    I cried for two weeks straight. It sucked. I felt what have I done. But, I stuck to my decision and kept walking.

    Two years later …. Dating, nobody special, but I’m happy. And, I realize now I dodged a bullet – a lifetime of misery.

  10. 70

    I agree with Evan but I am struggling with something in this letter.   Is she saying that for two years or a year and 9 months he was one man wonderful loving texting sex all the time and then the day after he proposed snap he was a total different person?   Or even the month or two after he proposed he was?   If that is in fact true I would first have this man seek medical attention and no I am not joking.   People don’t change their personality completely on a dime like that.   I’ve reread this several times and that is what she is saying.   That makes no sense.   People are reading it as if it was something gradual but that’s not how it reads she is writing in as if it was engagement one day and then either the next day or the next few months he is totally different.   Someone with a distinct personality change may have a serious medical problem or mental health issue.   Maybe he stopped taking prescribed medications?    Or what is more likely is that this is the man that he was all along and he has not changed at all.   It’s her that has seen him for who he is in knowing now that she has decided to commit to this man.    So yes the advice is still the same leave but don’t blame this man.    Because there is no way he changed on a time.      And if he did in fact change on a dime please take him to a doctor.

  11. 71

    I unfortunately married the selfish douche…dont be like me!

  12. 72

    even a man at that age still plays the hot and cold act. the old sage saying of listen to his actions still ring true. surely he gave the ring but his day to day actions don’t back that up.

  13. 73

    Completely agree with Evan and also it sounds like the good treatment at the beginning, until the crucial point of engagement, might have been just an ego-boosting strategy for him (unconsciously). He being able to “gain” a fiance boosts his ego. Soothes his anxiety of being unworthy of love and of being rejected. So the whole thing may have been motivated by selfishness. Otherwise someone would not change point blank like this if the underlying reason was selfless. Maybe now he thinks he has a safe fallback person and he can fool around to get more ego boosting, knowing he always has the option of someone highly committed to him. This may or may not be the case, but still something I would consider. A sudden change like this, unless motivated by the sudden change of the other, must have deeper and more ugly roots.

  14. 74

    When I read this, I had to wonder if it was something to do with his age. My ex did the same thing to me. We were together on and off for 12 years essentially living as a married couple. No kids, but shared a home. Neither of us were that interested in marriage when we first met, as we had both just ended bad relationships (in my case a marriage). Fast forward a few years and marriage started to become a topic of conversation more frequently. Mainly because we were both getting older (both just turned 50), I was concerned about the legal issues if one of us were to die, and although we were past the age of having a family I wanted the stability of marriage. I think our parents were also a factor, as they hoped to see us walk down the aisle while they were still alive to witness it.

    So eventually we had a not-very-romantic proposal and got married a year later. I had worries going in that it might not be such a great idea. Over the years our relationship had experienced far more ups than downs and I’d had two close friends get married after decades together only to divorce soon after. But since I’d pushed for marriage I felt obligated to go through with it now that it was happening. The wedding was lovely. We didn’t splash out on a huge party, which was fine, and our friends and family were all very happy that we had finally tied the knot. We were ticking a box I think. And for a while afterwards everything was better than it had been before. No fighting, no door slamming, no walking out (because it was much harder since we were legally tied together).

    Then once all the excitement of the wedding had died down everything changed. It’s like he became a different person. It was suddenly very very obvious that we were stuck together and all the issues we’d had before hadn’t disappeared because of a piece of paper. We still argued, except now the fights became screaming matches. He stopped trying to make an effort at home. I think he felt like he now had me there permanently so it no longer mattered as much if he stopped cleaning up after himself or trying to impress me. I couldn’t just walk away like I did before. I was stuck with him regardless.

    I will say that on my part I also changed, although it was in response to his behaviour. All of the things that annoyed me about him before were suddenly glaringly obvious and grated on me a lot more. He’d gone from hot boyfriend to annoying partner with potential to lazy, rude, angry husband. I gradually stopped finding him attractive and our sex life all but died. Although I was also starting the menopause, so that didn’t help either. It was a culmination of problems. But mostly it was the realisation that we had wasted all those years pretending everything was fine and marriage had forced us to acknowledge that we really weren’t happy and had never been completely happy.

    So while I accept that Lee’s situation may have been different (certainly shorter in duration than mine). I would suggest it may not have been entirely one-sided and perhaps examining the relationship more closely would have highlighted bigger flaws that should have been dealt with early on. It’s far better than you part ways before the marriage takes place than afterwards. Unravelling everything, having just spent a lot of money on a wedding, is much harder. I think by 50, men know what they want in a partner and maybe your fiancé has realised things won’t work.

  15. 75

    I had to read this story a few times as this story is exactly what I’m facing today. It’s pretty distrusting and disturbing to think that majority of men would behave this way. After dating over a year there was a proposal. Prior to this proposal I was his queen, beautiful and sweet messages throughout the day, beautiful flower arrangements delivered, wonderful gifts, kind and sweet words with each contact. It seems one week after the proposal my name became bitch, I was a slut and a whore and this verbal abuse would began with my asking what do you want for dinner, or the fact that I would place wet towels in the washer to prevent mold and smell in the house before laundry day. Or my shocked reaction learning after the engagement that he has two ex wives and a baby momma. It didn’t take much to get him angry as he would then work his self up with more anger by creating words or gestures I said. When I was so afraid, I said absolutely nothing. I couldn’t argue with this man or prove a point as his rage never allowed reason. He would want to fight as I have standards and would prefer a loving and healthy relationship versus to be lied to and continue living in fear. I have left this abusive man a month ago and prior to learning how to appropriately block and delete his information, his abuse continued as he cried that I left him, I abandoned him, that I never loved him. I was like the original writer, I was swept off my feet in the beginning and continued seeking for this person to return. He never did, what became before me was this uncontrolled monster, his true self. I am so happy that he allowed me to see who he really is to prevent making the biggest mistake of my life of becoming a sad statistic as his wife #3. I thank each of you for your responses as the decision to leave had to happen but it’s hasn’t been easy. Your encouraging words initiates and recalculates all the courage needed to staying strong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *