Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The Noncommittal Boyfriend

This week, Grace Lavery and Daniel Mallory Ortberg discuss a Prudie letter: the noncommittal boyfriend. Nicole Cliffe will return next week.

Danny: This definitely feels like a very 90s Sex and the City style scenario

like I should be saying HOW to get a RING in 90 DAYS or WALK

Grace: Like, he can’t google “where do I buy an engagement ring”? Puh-leez

Yes my first response is v 1980s Lois Lane

Danny: that was my first thought too! what a paltry excuse!

“I, a man who was able to move my entire life across the country, do not know how to find a ring store.” That feels very insulting; I would be insulted

Grace: It is a fully stupid deployment of male fecklessness

And he ought to be ashamed of himself twice

Danny: I feel like once I said the words “engagement ring” out loud every single ad I saw for the next six months was “WE HAVE DIAMONDS FOR YOU, DANIEL”

they call it the wedding industrial complex for a reason!!

why twice

Grace: First for being too lazy to look up a ring store and second for using that as an excuse with someone you profess to love

Perhaps this guy has no online life and uses travel agents to move across the country

But it is still very weak tea

So here we go

(1) why are you marrying this drip

(2) don’t marry this drip

(3) why are you living in this shitty place

(4) don’t live in this shitty place!!

(5) when was the last time you did something for yourself?

(6) you deserve real and meaningful love and better orgasms

Danny: “please move across the country with me to a place you hate and help me get rid of my mom’s stuff. what’s that? a ‘ring’? Never heard of such a thing.”

Grace: I dunno dude

How can men do this kind of shit and then still get women to say that THEY are “on the unreasonable end of the spectrum”

Danny: right? she’s so worried about seeming “silly” and says she “unfortunately” cried

of course you cried! you were having a feeling! that’s GOOD

Grace: I really want to give her a hug

And some direct eye contact

And a “come on. you know what’s up here.”

Danny: i don’t know who has convinced you that it is stupid to want to be married or that you’re ridiculous for wanting some tangible sign of his commitment to you when you’ve already bought a house together

but it’s not

and I’m sorry that you already talked yourself out of your own principles by moving with him when you said you didn’t want to unless he proposed

Grace: However one feels about marriage as a relational form it is a legally protective condition and this guy is such a flake he will 100% rob you and pretend it was an accident at some point

I agree with the sentiment about talking yourself out of your own principles too

Danny: yes obviously it is completely fine and understandable to argue against marriage or not to pursue it in your own life

but this guy isn’t interested in developing some new form of human relationships, he’s just lazy and/or doesn’t want to be honest with his girlfriend about what he wants

Grace: He really seems both

Danny: if he’d just said “i don’t want to be engaged because i don’t want to make it harder to break up in case i want to end things in a year,” that would kind of be fine!

because then our letter writer could make an Informed Decision

Grace: Well if he had said that, then he would be a dick

You, Danny, happen to admire that kind of dickery

But you shouldn’t

Danny: i appreciate clarity, Grace!

and I will 100 times out of 100 choose a clear opponent versus someone who dwells in MURKINESS and tries to avoid telling me whether we are on the same team or not

Grace: I know, I know

Danny: also I feel BRACED when a man tells me he doesn’t want to marry me because then I have a clear task: WIN HIM OVER

Grace: Anyway

We can agree that this form of strategic vagueness is deceitful and it is wholly unappealing, so however good the dick is it is time to LEAVE

Danny: yes, I mean, the best-case scenario here is what? You sit him down and say “I don’t think we want the same things, so I’m going to move home” and he pulls out an engagement ring at the last second

and you get to be engaged to someone who had to be cajoled into doing it

Grace: “Girl. I know I’m lazy. I know I had that whole bullshit excuse about not knowing where to buy a ring. But please, uh, would you take this Funyun and wrap it round two fingers”

Danny: how dare you bring Funyuns into this, when Homer himself proposed to Marge with an onion ring

“Marge…pour vous”

Grace: Mmmmmmmm


mmmmmale fecklessness is not appealing or redeemable

Danny: i don’t know, I didn’t mean to end up quite so 90s-style FISH or CUT BAIT about this, but like

after two years, a cross-country move, buying a house together, and disposing of his mother’s estate together

if he still can’t come with a better excuse for not wanting to be engaged than “I couldn’t find a jewelry store”

he is withholding information, information which I feel confident guessing is some variation on “I’m hoping you’ll drop it if I distract you/ignore you on the subject long enough”

and I think you should move home, figure out how to let him buy you out of your share of the house or otherwise dispense of your legal connection to him, and go out with someone who likes you

Grace: I countersign all of the above and I think that today, when you read this, and you feel some kind of “eesh, these strangers sure seem confident they know about my life” that you IMMEDIATELY do something entirely to care for yourself

Take yourself to a spa

Or buy a hat he would hate

Or go for a long walk somewhere beautiful

Turn your phone off

Danny: yes!

Grace: Whatever it is. You have a better future than this