Dear Dr Pam,
I recently overheard my boyfriend tell his mum that he’s going to propose to me on our one year anniversary in July.
I like my boyfriend and suspect I could fall in love with him, but I don’t ever want to get married. At least not now as I’m still only in my late 20s although he is a bit older, 33.
Here’s the tough part as two years ago he ended up depressed, to the point of being suicidal, when he split up with his ex and I’m afraid rejecting his proposal will result in the same. How do I let him down gently? Is there any way I can? Thanks for your help, Jill
Our self-help expert Dr Pam Spurr, author of brand-new dieting guide The Emotional Eater’s Diet says:
I can see how worried you must feel. But first off, it’s never the reason to get married because of emotional ransom – worrying what someone will do if rejected.
So you’re on the right track by realising you don’t want to feel pressured to say yes but you simply want to let him down gently.
I’d hope that two years on from the very dark time you describe he’s done some maturing. After all, you two have shared what must’ve been a good year together. And most people do some emotional growth with every relationship – even ones that end sadly and where they’re hurt badly.
So begin with the confidence that you saying no to him won’t crush him so badly he reverts to suicidal feelings. Think about how you can make things seem pretty positive when the time comes. Turn him down from a ‘positive place’ about how much you care for him and it’s just not on your register at this point.
It’s amazing how thinking things through and even giving what one person will consider bad news in the right way can take the worst part of it away. This is because people often take how bad news is delivered on top of the bad news itself. So if bad news is delivered with fear and guilt – it makes it worse for them. But delivered in the best possible way it lessens the blow.
The next step is for you to spell out what you enjoy about your relationship with him. This can open up a discussion about your general intention not to marry. At this point use a confident tone and keep it matter of fact that this is just the way you’ve always felt and that it certainly not about him.
Finally it may be that he was discussing this but maybe he actually won’t go through with it. Often people mull over things like proposing marriage for quite some time before they do it.
Before he has the chance to do it use any opportunity like when you’re watching a TV programme or film where a proposal comes up, to drop into the conversation how that’s not ‘your thing’. This might give him the opportunity to rethink proposing to you.
Ultimately you can never be emotionally blackmailed so I hope taking these positive steps means that things go as well as they could be expected. Best wishes, Pam x
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